A while ago there was a thread on here regarding qualifiying for maternity benefits with UK employers. I just thought I'd update that with what I have recently learned.
My situation is not necessarily unusual but I will state it because obviously it won't apply to everyone.
I am on FLR-M which is up at the end of July 2006. I am due 21 April 2006. I am currently on a temporary contract that is due to expire at the end of January (renewal is possible but not at all guaranteed). I have been at my job since 20 June 2005.
My company's maternity is bog standard. They offer only what the government requires: the first 6 weeks at 90% pay and then the remaining 6 months at £107 per week. You can take an additional 6 months unpaid.
Regardless of what type of contract I am on (temp, perm, fixed contract), I am eligible for statuatory maternity pay (SMP) where I work. I believe this applies everywhere but don't hold me to that.
The big question was, am I eligible for SMP if my contract is not renewed? In my case, the answer is yes. This is because I have worked for the company the necessary 26 weeks prior to the expected date of confinement (such a great phrase). It may also because my company doesn't offer more than what the gov't requires. My (your) company will be reimbursed the £107 week they 'pay' me by the gov't.
The other big question was, am I eligibile on FLR-M? My HR deparment were great and phoned around several places to find out the answer. Turns out, it's the Inland Revenue who had it. Apparently, you have to have been contributing to National Insurance for a certain amount of time in order to qualify. I'm working on getting this in writing and will post here when I have the exact specifics.
What they did confirm is that SMP is not a 'benefit' like the dole or other things that you aren't allowed to claim while on FLR. If anyone cares to dispute this, though, PLEASE LET ME KNOW because clearly I need to know this, as does anyone else who may read this down the road! I've been on this board too long - and dealing with visa and benefit issues too long - to take just one organization's word for something.
But so far, things look pretty good. I'll update here once I get a confirmation from the Inland Revenue.