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Small businesses with employees will need to meet legal obligations when it comes to having a maternity leave policy.
This guide explains the benefits of using a maternity policy template and what the law says when it comes to supporting your staff.
Maternity and paternity leave are important legal obligations.
When it comes to maternity leave, through a combination of employer and the state, employees get:
As maternity leave is a legal obligation, small businesses that have employees should have a maternity leave policy.
But drawing up a maternity leave policy can be challenging, especially if you don’t have in-house legal expertise. First, you need to make sure that your policy meets your statutory requirements. As well as that, you might want to offer extra perks.
That’s because small businesses that have more generous maternity and paternity leave terms can help them attract and retain talent – useful when competing against larger businesses.
Employers have legal requirements when it comes to maternity policies.
First, your maternity leave policy should be easily available to all employees. For example, you could have printed copies available in the office, or a digital copy on your company intranet.
The key responsibilities can be split into leave and pay.
For statutory maternity leave:
For statutory maternity pay:
As long as you’re meeting your statutory requirements, you could also go beyond the legal minimum with your maternity policy. For example, you might want to make your maternity leave policy more generous, or increase maternity pay. Remember that you’ll still have to deduct income tax and National Insurance contributions from pay during leave.
You should also bear in mind that you may need to give paternity leave or shared parental leave (SPL). Employees who are eligible for SPL or shared parental pay may be able to take their leave in blocks, with periods of work in the middle.
It's important to remember that you can’t discriminate on the basis of gender with parental leave or pay. For example, offering larger sums in maternity pay than in shared parental pay is likely to be unlawful.
A customisable maternity leave policy template for small business can help you get started, and you can edit it to find what's right for you and your employees.
When communicating maternity leave policies to your employees, remember that all employment rights are protected during the period. These include pay rises, holiday, and return to work practices.
Most employers can reclaim 92 per cent of an employee's statutory parental pay. But if you’re classed as a small employer, then you may be able to reclaim 103 per cent.
In this case, the government defines a small employer as a business that paid less than £45,000 in Class 1 National Insurance in the last complete tax year. Reductions like Employment Allowance don’t apply to this total.
To claim your small employers’ relief, you’ll need to use your payroll software to send an Employer Payment Summary (EPS) that includes your payments. If you send the EPS by the 19th of the following tax month, you should receive a reduction in your next Full Payment Statement.
Have you got a maternity leave policy for your small business? Let us know in the comments below.
Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.
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