The States of Guernsey agreed on 21 February 2013 that statutory maternity leave and maternity support leave should be introduced in Guernsey. The implementation of the proposals has been delayed pending a decision on funding the new regime, which will see the introduction of a material health allowance and a newborn care allowance to replace the current maternity allowance.
The proposals recommended by the Policy Council, and adopted by the States, are as follows:
- The introduction of two weeks’ compulsory statutory maternity leave immediately following the birth. The woman would not be able to return to work during this period. Her employer would have to ensure that this was complied with.
- The introduction of 12 weeks’ basic statutory maternity leave, at least two of which would have to be taken immediately after the birth as compulsory maternity leave.
- The introduction of an enhanced period of 26 weeks’ statutory maternity leave, at least two of which would have to be taken immediately after the birth as compulsory leave. This enhanced period would be available only to those employees who have been continuously employed by their current employer, (including an associate employer) for at least 15 consecutive months prior to their due date.
- The introduction of statutory time-off to attend ante-natal appointments.
- The right for a woman to work for up to 10 days whilst on maternity leave (excluding the period of compulsory leave) without losing entitlement to maternity leave and benefits. This is to encourage employers and employees to “keep in touch”.
- Women intending to take statutory maternity leave should give their employer at least 3 months’ written
- notice of their due date and when they want maternity leave to start, although employers will be required to be flexible in cases of maternal ill-health and premature birth.
- The introduction of a 2 week period of statutory “maternity support leave” for fathers (or the mother’s partner) to be taken immediately after the birth, or on the mother or baby leaving hospital. This right to take leave would be available only to those who have worked for their current employer for at least 15 consecutive months.
- The introduction of statutory leave provisions similar to those which apply to parents of a newborn for those who adopt children, that is: o the same periods of statutory leave, provided qualifying periods have been met where applicable; o a period of 2 weeks’ mandatory leave to encourage bonding between the parent and the adopted child immediately after adoption.
- Enhanced social security benefits should be used to fund the new allowances rather than providing for employer-funded statutory maternity pay.
- The Social Security Department should report back with proposals for funding the new regime. This will include changes to the current maternity allowance which will be split into a maternal health allowance and a newborn care allowance. These two allowances will not overlap. The newborn care allowance is intended to move away from the traditional “breadwinner” model to a more gender-neutral model of parental benefits. Similar allowances will be payable to those who adopt children.