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Confused about maternity leave? Here's everything you need to know

by , 18 April 2014
Some employers give paid benefits for maternity leave, others don't. Some give more than four months and some only give the minimum. Because of this, you may be confused about what you have to do with an employee on maternity leave. There's no need to be confused any more. Here's everything that you need to know about maternity leave.

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The who, what and how long of maternity leave
There's one rule to remember when it comes to maternity leave: According to the Practical Guide to Human Resources Management you must give the statutory maternity leave period of four month to any employee. She may have been with you for three weeks or three years, either way she's still entitled to it. 
This, however, doesn't mean that you have to pay her any benefits. You don't have to gives these to an employee who has worked for you for less than four months. Employees who work less than 24 hours a week also don't get maternity leave benefits. 
Your employee must let you know, in writing, about her maternity leave. She must do this, four weeks before she plans on starting her leave. You might also want her to complete a maternity leave form as well. This will help you keep a record of who gets maternity leave entitlements. If they don't know when to take maternity leave be aware that it can happen anytime in the four weeks before her due date.
The last point is that your employee may not come back to work for at least six weeks after she's had the baby. She doesn't have to use her whole four months, but she must at least take those six weeks. 
But your responsibilities to your pregnant employees don't stop there…
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What to remember with a pregnant or breast feeding employee
If your employee is pregnant or breast feeding she mustn't do any work that's unsafe for her. This, as are all of these tips, is outlined by the Department of Labour. 
Bottom line: There are very clear laws around pregnancy leave so make sure you're following them. These are the basics, so stick to these and make your maternity leave policy is full proof. 

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