Maternity Protection in the Workplace
When the news breaks about a new addition to the family, planning for the baby starts. This should not only take place within the family but also in the workplace. The pregnant employee should consider that there are guidelines to follow on the job in order to access her maternity benefits at work. Likewise, there are a couple of responsibilities on the employer's part that must be fulfilled, all to maintain a good employment relationship and adhere to the law.
So, what are the first set of maternity questions that come to mind? How to apply for maternity leave and will the pregnant employee be paid for this leave?
Here you will find all you need to know about maternity at work which is important to note so that you can avoid you from bumping into trouble with the Maternity Protection Act Chapter 45:57; the piece of legislation that provides maternity protection at work for employees.
Benefits of a Pregnant Employee
A pregnant worker who is employed continuously with the same employer for a period of twelve (12) months and more is entitled to:
- Fourteen (14) weeks maternity leave.
- One (1) month full pay and two (2) months half pay by her employer.
The pregnant employee also has the benefit of:
- Reasonable time-off for clinic/doctor appointments for pre-natal care.
- Resuming work after such leave on terms no less favourable than enjoyed immediately prior to the employee proceeding on leave.
- Maternity leave six (6) weeks prior to her expected date of confinement or at a subsequent date at her discretion, once she is medically fit for work.
To apply for maternity leave a pregnant employee must:
- Inform her employer in writing no later than eight (8) weeks before her expected date of delivery.
- Submit a medical certificate from a qualified person stating her probable date of confinement.
- Inform her employer, in writing, of her intended date of return from maternity leave.
Responsibilities of the Employer
- Payment of Employee NIS contributions to the National Insurance Board (NIB).
- Provide reasonable time-off with pay to the pregnant employee to receive pre-natal medical care.
- Grant the employee leave of absence for the purpose of maternity leave whether the child is premature or dies at birth, once the pregnancy is more than twenty-six (26) weeks or dies within the period of leave.
- Pay while on maternity leave once the employee has worked for twelve (12) consecutive months at his/her organization.
- Allow the employee to resume work following maternity leave on terms no less favourable than were enjoyed by her immediately prior to her leave.
- Keep and maintain records to show whether the provisions of the Maternity Protection Act are being complied with.
More Facts About Maternity At Work
Who can access maternity benefits?
- All pregnant workers employed in the private or public sector can access maternity benefits.
If a pregnant employee has worked for less than twelve (12) months, does she have any benefits?
- Yes, she is entitled to fourteen (14) weeks maternity leave without pay and time-off to attend clinic visits.
Are public holidays and weekends counted when checking maternity leave?
- Yes, maternity leave is calculated as fourteen (14) weeks straight from the date that the working mom proceeds on leave which will include public holidays and weekends.
Can an employee extend her maternity leave?
- An employee may extend her absence from work for one (1) of the following reasons:
a. Medical Reason: An employee can extend her leave for a period no more than twelve (12) weeks. In this case, the employer is obligated to pay the employee half-pay for the first six (6) weeks and no-pay for the next six (6) weeks.
b. Non-Medical Reason: An employee can extend her leave for a period of no more than four (4) weeks. In this case, the employer is not obligated to pay the employee for this period.
What must the employee do to extend her maternity leave?
- Within ten (10) working days before her return date the employee is required to give her employer a written notice stating the reason she is unable to return to work and if it is for a medical reason there must be medical certificate attached from her doctor.
How often can a pregnant employee apply for paid maternity leave?
- Once, every twenty-four (24) months.
Is there a law that grants paternity leave to fathers?
- No, there is no law that states that fathers have access for paternity leave. However, there are some institutions that have made it a part of their regulations.
How can one access additional information on maternity at work?
- The Labour Inspectorate Unit is the monitoring and enforcement arm of the Ministry with responsibility for ensuring that employees and employers across public and private sectors are compliant with the Maternity Protection Act.
For more information or to submit a complaint, contact the Ministry's Labour Inspectorate Unit:
Duke Place, Level 3, 50-54 Duke Street,
Port of Spain
299-0300 Option 3
Hosein's Building, #40-42 St. James Street, Level 3
285 - 5133 Option 4
For more information on how to access the maternity grant, pay benefits, multiple births, when to drop in your maternity form and other related matters, contact the National Insurance Board (NIB):
Telephone: 625-4NIS | 4647;
NIB SERVICE CENTERS
Cor. Woodford & Sorzano Streets
35-36 Fifth Street
Cor. Market & Ramsaran Streets.,
27 Harris Promenade
2 Captain Watson Street, Exchange Lots
Cor. Wrigtson Road & Luis Street
7A Techier Main Road
9 Bacolet Street
Marlson's Building, Charlotte & High Streets.,
Eastern Main Road
#2461 Naparima/Mayaro Road
Maternity Protection Act
NIB Maternity Benefit
NIB Maternity Multiple Births
Medical Certification Form
NIB Special Maternity
Benefit Grant Form