Can enhanced maternity pay be reclaimed if I don’t return due to sickness?: ask the expert

My company pays enhanced maternity pay. Within the maternity policy there is a statement which says that should an employee fail to return to work for a minimum of 3 months following her maternity leave (i.e. due to sickness or subsequent pregnancy) then the company has a right to reclaim part or all of the enhanced payments made. I am currently pregnant and within that 3-month window having returned early from my last maternity leave. With my last pregnancy I had complications and although I am feeling well to date with this pregnancy I was wondering if my company can reclaim the enhanced payments from my last maternity leave should I need to go sick with this pregnancy? I am hoping this situation will not arise, but I would like to know where I stand should I take sick leave or am forced to start my maternity leave early due to illness. I know that by law they aren’t allowed to treat me unfairly due to pregnancy-related sickness, but the wording in the maternity policy has got me confused.

I am of the view that such a policy in the handbook, i.e. that if an employee fails to return to work for a minimum of 3 months following her maternity leave i.e. due to sickness or subsequent pregnancy, potentially amounts to indirect sex discrimination.  If the company tried to recover the payment from you, then this would potentially amount to indirect sex discrimination and I am of the view that you would have a valid claim against the company.





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