Zero hour contract maternity pay rights

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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Are your zero hour contract workers entitled to maternity pay? Employers, and workers, can read this expert guide to find out what the current UK payment rights are.

There’s a lot of confusion surrounding zero hour contracts. But if you want to employ casual workers, you need to know what their rights are, including whether or not they’re entitled to maternity pay.

In this guide, we explain:

  • The definition of a zero hour contract.
  • Whether zero hour contract workers qualify for maternity pay.
  • What your workers can do if they don’t qualify.

What is a zero hour contract?

A zero hour contract is a contract that says your staff only have to work when you make work available to them.

There’s no contractual guarantee that work will be available, and you can choose not to give work to certain workers even if it is. Likewise, they can choose not to accept the work.

What rights do zero hour contract workers have?

Zero hour contract workers are entitled to statutory annual leave and the National Minimum Wage, just like part-time and full-time workers.

Are zero hour contract workers entitled to maternity pay?

Many employers believe their staff aren’t entitled to statutory maternity pay if they’re on zero hour contracts.

And while casual workers’ rights are more limited than full and part-time employees, there are times when you’ll need to give maternity pay to zero hour contract workers.

If you pay your zero hour contract workers through PAYE and deduct any tax or national insurance from their wages, they qualify for statutory maternity pay (SMP) if they meet the same criteria that full-time employees have to meet as well:

  • You’ve employed them for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before their expected week of childbirth.
  • You still employee them in the 15th week before their expected week of childbirth.
  • You pay them at least £120 (before tax) per week, on average, in the eight weeks (if you pay them weekly) or two months (if you pay them monthly) up to the last payday before the end of the 15th week before their baby is due.

Maternity allowance for zero hour contract workers

Even if your workers don’t qualify for statutory maternity pay, they may qualify for maternity allowance (MA) if:

  • They changed jobs during their pregnancy.
  • Had breaks in their employment.
  • Don’t earn enough to get SMP.

We're here to help

If you have any questions about zero hour contract maternity pay, you can get in touch with us on 0800 028 2420.


Got a question? Check whether we’ve already answered it for you…

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