Statutory Maternity Leave can last up to fifty two weeks. This period of time is comprised of twenty six weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave making one year in total.
In order to qualify you must be an employee and give the correct notice to your employer. An advantage to the future mother is that it is available no matter how long you have worked with your employer, regardless of the number of hours you are contracted to work, or how much you are paid for that work. The fifty two weeks can run from anytime from the eleven weeks before the beginning of the week the baby is due, giving the mother flexibility in planning their work commitments. All this might be of great benefit to the employee but what about the employer?
It has been estimated that it costs the employer £8,546 a year each time someone goes on maternity leave. That alone might be enough to put a business off employing people during these difficult economic times. This includes the price of maternity pay coupled with the payment of a replacement. This is just an average figure and it can in fact cost a lot more. Some businesses, for example, have a more favourable maternity package for their employees. The results of the new research revealed that nearly half of the employers asked do offer more beneficial maternity leave packages than they are under a statutory order to offer. This is most true in the public sector. In view of the recent economic climate, however, employers have been making use of those employees not on leave to help spread the cost and reduce the burden. Often, when someone goes on maternity leave their position is not replaced by a temporary worker. Instead the workload is divided and taken on by other staff members. Clearly this reduced costs in terms of salary, but at what cost to those left with the extra workload? It is not uncommon for employers to suffer with over worked staff who have lost their motivation for the role and feel “dumped on”. So in addition to the cost figure quoted above there are other costs to be borne by the employer. These other costs can however, later translate into further financial costs if productivity is affected by the unhappy staff.
New research has suggested a total average cost of one hundred and twenty five thousand pounds per organisation year on year. This figure was arrived at having surveyed 181 employers. Of those surveyed an average of 3 percent of their employees were currently on maternity leave.