Contract work and maternity rights: ask the expert

I’m on a fixed-term contract originally covering maternity leave. I started last August and the contract runs until the end of October and I found out I am 14 weeks pregnant and my EWC is in November. If my contract runs out before I take maternity leave am I entitled to SMP or do I have to apply for MA? Also the company has a policy of paying more than SMP for employees who have more than 1 year’s service by 15 weeks before the due date. I just qualify, but wondered if I would get this if I’m not permanent. The policy doesn’t distinguish between contract and permanent positions. Again could I be entitled to this? If so would I be entitled it if I took maternity leave as soon as my contract ended or would I need to start it beforehand to qualify?

If your contract has ended before you go on maternity leave you will not get the contractual maternity pay. But, provided you meet the qualifying criteria for SMP that will be paid by your former employer even if your employment has ended.   You will need to be employed in your 26th week of pregnancy to qualify for SMP and meet all the other SMP criteria.

If later on you believe that ‘but for’ your pregnancy your contract would have been extended you may have a discrimination claim. Please do come back to me if that occurs.

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