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What is Statutory Maternity Pay?

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  • Written By: M. Lupica
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2016
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A woman's right to have a child without having to worry about whether or not her employer would replace her was once not recognized. Now, most jurisdictions have enacted laws protecting the jobs of women who must temporarily leave work in order to give birth to a child. Central to most of these laws is the concept of statutory maternity pay. Statutory maternity pay is payment of a portion of a woman’s pay while she takes a reasonable time off to give birth to the child and recover. In some jurisdictions statutory maternity pay is provided through the short-term disability benefits distributed by a government.

Statutory maternity pay laws generally provide that a woman has the right to leave her job for a reasonable period of time to give birth and recover without being replaced. Usually, the employer is required to maintain all her employment rights such as health care and pension contributions throughout the maternity leave. She must also be entitled to all paid holidays she would otherwise be granted. This right arises any time she has a child — i.e., the employer may not limit the amount of times the woman will be allowed to take maternity leave.

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The calculation of statutory maternity pay varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but there is typically a formula determining the appropriate amount the employer must pay the woman throughout her maternity leave. Generally, companies must calculate the statutory maternity pay as a percentage of the woman’s salary over a recent period of time. For example, such a statute may provide that an employer must pay a woman on maternity leave 75% of her average paycheck over the previous 12 weeks. If over the previous 12 weeks she made a total of $12,000 US Dollars (USD), the employer must pay her $750 (USD) per week over the duration of her maternity leave.

Some jurisdictions provide statutory maternity pay for women who are to give birth through short-term disability, a government funded program that provides people with a percentage of their pay if they are unable to work due to a physical issue. Rates vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the calculation of short-term disability pay is generally similar to the method described above. The only real difference between the methods is the source of the money. The government provides short-term disability while the former method of statutory maternity pay is provided by a company or other employer.

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Rotergirl
Post 2

@Pippinwhite -- Remind me never to apply for a job at your company!

My company paid statutory maternity pay, but the bad part is that Congress had to pass a law to make companies do the right thing. Companies want women in certain jobs until they get pregnant, and suddenly, they're a liability. I've heard of companies telling women they will be fired if they get pregnant within a year of joining the company. They got sued for it, of course, and lost, but that didn't stop them from trying to enforce it to start with. Common sense should have told them that was a really bad idea.

Pippinwhite
Post 1

My company adheres to the Family Medical Leave Act, of course, but only provides pay during that time if the mom has vacation time. I don't think they do statutory maternity pay. Their view is that it's enough that they're keeping a woman on the staff while she stays home for three months, but they shouldn't have to pay her to do it, except for the vacation time she's earned. It stinks, but it's legal.

All a US company is required to do is keep a woman on its staff while she is on leave. If the woman has short term disability insurance, she can claim it regardless, but my company doesn't provide the statutory pay.

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