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Employment Act 2002

Section 20: Entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay

52.This section amends section 164 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992. Section 164 deals with a woman's entitlement to SMP and employers’ liability to pay it. In particular:

  • Paragraph (a) amends section 164(2)(a) of the Act. The amendment does not affect the requirement for a woman to have been employed by her employer for a continuous period of 26 weeks into the 15th week before her expected week of confinement. She must also have ceased to work for him but the requirement that she ceases work “wholly or partly because of pregnancy or confinement” is omitted. This restores the original intention which is to safeguard a woman's entitlement to SMP should her employment end for whatever reason after the beginning of the 15th week.

  • Paragraph (b) replaces section 164(4) which sets out the notice a woman is required to give her employer of the start of her maternity pay period. Instead of requiring a woman to give notice of her absence from work because of her pregnancy, she is required to give her employer notice of the date she expects his liability to pay her SMP to start. In addition the minimum notice period is increased from 21 days to 28 days to harmonise with similar changes to maternity leave.

  • Paragraphs (c) and (d) provide a power, as now, to modify the entitlement and notice provisions in certain cases; for example early birth.

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