I’m on a fixed-term maternity cover contract, but I start my own maternity leave before it ends. The woman that I am covering from overlapped with me and then took holiday before she began her maternity leave so she may not be back at the end of the contract in any event. While I’m not entitled to the CMP, if I were officially in post for another month then I would accrue more holiday that I would then be paid for and minimise the length of the maternity leave gap on my CV. I’ve read that I can’t be dismissed while the post still exists. Would my employer have to wait until the substantive post-holder returned to work either at the end of maternity leave or after taking annual leave at the end of mat leave or both before they could officially dismiss me? I understand that they would need to put this in writing and would then pay the balance on my SMP. I am assuming that I can’t claim CMP because this requires me to return for a number of weeks, which, if I have been dismissed, won’t be possible.
I understand that you are asking about the circumstances in which you can be dismissed. The termination of your employment should be dealt with in your contract of employment so I would advise you to check this first. As you are employed on a fixed-term basis, your contract is likely to specify an end date to your employment or a set of circumstance (for example, the return to work of the employee whose role you are covering). If you are dismissed within the fixed term in breach of contract, you may be able to claim compensation for the remainder of the fixed term. You would not be able to claim unfair dismissal unless you were dismissed for an automatically unfair reason, as you would otherwise require two years’ continuity to pursue this claim.
If you would like your contract to be extended after the end date specified in your contract, you should speak with your line manager to see if they will agree to an extension.
In terms of SMP, if an employee is dismissed or resigns during maternity leave, the maternity leave will come to an end. However, if you have become entitled to SMP, your employer must continue to pay SMP for the remainder of the SMP period (or until some other disqualifying event).
*Helen Frankland assisted in answering this question.