TT38: Maternity & Sick Pay Changes

May 22, 2003

New employee rights from 6th April

All employers need to be aware of recent major changes to employees’ rights to maternity leave, paternity leave and sick pay. For example, for the first time, some new fathers will be entitled to paid paternity leave!

A summary of the changes follows:

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

Expectant mothers who qualify for SMP are now entitled to up to 26 weeks paid maternity leave, with the option to extend this by a further 26 weeks unpaid leave. For the initial 6 weeks SMP is paid at a rate of 90% of average weekly earnings followed by up to 20 weeks SMP at £100 per week.

Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP)

New fathers may now take up to two weeks paternity leave paid at a maximum rate of £100 per week, to be taken at any time in the first eight weeks after the baby is born.

Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP)

Also new is the introduction of Statutory Adoption Pay. Leave is available to any employee (male or female) adopting a child placed with them on or after 6 April 2003. However, this does not include foster parents or step-parents that go on to adopt a child. The rules are similar to those for SMP.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Whilst the rules for payment and recovery of statutory sick pay remain unchanged, the weekly rate of statutory sick pay has now increased slightly to £64.35.

Barnes Roffe Topical Tips

  • The legislation surrounding these areas is quite involved, with employees’ rights to these new benefits very much depending on their individual circumstances. It is very important to be sure of the correct rules to apply.
  • Even very new employees have many of these rights – do not automatically assume SMP, SPP, SAP and SSP will not apply to them.
  • The Inland Revenue provides useful guidance at
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