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Coronavirus and Rights of Maternity Leave- KLG Law

Calendar March 28, 2020

Government guidance announced on the 16Th March 2020 that all pregnant women should take social distancing measures.

The Guidance is rapidly changing, so checking is important to keep updated on these changes.

Health and Safety

The employer should assess the risks to the pregnant women and new mothers. This includes risks caused by:

  • heavy lifting or carrying
  • standing or sitting for long period without adequate breaks
  • exposure to toxic substances
  • long working hours

As the coronavirus is a highly infectious disease the employers’ duty is to assess the level of risk at work.

Working from Home

The Government strongly advises pregnant women to work from home where this is practical. Employers’ should enable this and discuss the outlined risks above to come to a safer solution for pregnant women.

Sick Pay

If Public Health England, a health professional or NHS 11 have advised individuals to self- isolate employees would be incapable of work and eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or any contractual sick pay your employer provides.

The Government has also announced that employers with less than 250 employees will be able to claim reimbursement for HMRC for the first 14 days and SSP is payable from day one.

Maternity pay and benefits

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) depends on average earning in the 18 to 26 period of the pregnancy.

Online calculator for qualifying conditions:

Self-employed Maternity Allowance:

Annual Leave

If the employee wants to protect their earnings for the qualifying period of the SMP or during their time in self isolation, they can request annual leave. This is usually beneficial for women that are unable to work from home, however the employer does not have to agree with this.

Dismissal and Discrimination

Employers must not discriminate against any employee let alone discriminate pregnant women. These individuals are protected against automatic dismissal and discrimination if made redundant, dismissed, discriminated against because of pregnancy or taking maternity leave.

If the employee has felt they have been discriminated against they can seek advice within three months (less one day).


If you are made redundant while pregnant or on maternity leave you can claim for unfair dismissal if:

  • There was no genuine redundancy situation.
  • You were selected for redundancy because you are pregnant or on maternity leave.
  • You were not offered a suitable alternative vacancy (if one exists).
  • You were selected in contravention of an agreed selection procedure.
  • The selection criteria were unfair themselves or were unfairly applied.
  • There was a failure to consult and warn.

If you are seeking professional employment law or legal advice, please contact our team of experts today, or call us on 0330 221 0684.


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