What are the consequences for you as an employer and what needs to be arranged?
Is your employee pregnant? Then she is entitled to maternity leave around the time of her delivery and a maternity allowance from the UWV. This is regulated in the Work and Care Act (WAZO). You apply for this benefit on her behalf. You receive the benefit from the UWV and continue to pay your employee her salary during her leave. The pregnancy therefore does not cost you anything as an employer. However, you may have to provide a temporary replacement for the employee.
UWV stands for Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen). They ensure the implementation of most employee insurance policies. See UWV.nl.
The benefit also applies to women who are self-employed and women with a 0-hour contract (on-call contract). Even when there is an unemployment benefit, there is a right to maternity leave.
Arranging maternity leave for your employee
Your employee must ask her doctor or midwife for a pregnancy declaration. This is a form or letter stating the expected date of delivery. Your employee keeps this statement in her own records. Therefore, you do not need to keep the pregnancy declaration. Up to 1 year after the end date of the maternity allowance, the UWV can ask your employee for the pregnancy declaration if this is necessary for an inspection.
Ask your employee when she wants to go on leave. This can be any day between 6 and 4 weeks before the day after the expected delivery date.
How do you apply for maternity pay?
You apply for maternity allowance (WAZO) digitally through the employers’ portal. The UWV immediately checks the details you enter. If the details are correct, you will receive confirmation of receipt.
When do you apply for maternity benefit?
Apply for the benefit no more than 4 and no less than 2 weeks before the start date of the leave. Within 4 weeks of the start of the leave, your employee will receive a letter from the UWV about the benefit. You will receive a copy of this letter.
If you apply for the benefit too early (earlier than 4 weeks before the start of the leave), you will first receive a notice from the UWV when they will process your application.
To whom does the UWV pay the benefit?
When you apply, indicate whether UWV should pay the benefit to you or to your employee. UWV usually pays to you. But sometimes it is convenient if the benefit is transferred directly to your employee. For example, if you know that your employee’s employment will end during the leave. Have you entered your own bank account number? Then the UWV will contact your employee for her account number at the end of the employment.
Correspondence and authorization
Correspondence about maternity pay (including payment) usually goes through your employee. Do you and your employee want all correspondence to be through you anyway? If so, please inform UWV of this when you apply. This is only possible with the paper application. In this case, your employee will give you an authorization, which you should add to the application. You will receive the decision; your employee will not be notified.
Period of maternity leave
Your employee is always entitled to at least 16 weeks leave: 6 weeks maternity leave and 10 weeks childbirth leave. The maternity leave starts on the day after the delivery. During this leave, the UWV pays the maternity leave allowance (WAZO). This benefit lasts as long as the leave.
In the following situations, the maternity leave may last longer than 10 weeks:
- If your employee gives birth before the due date, or she takes leave less than 6 weeks before the due date.
- If your employee’s child is hospitalized after delivery.
Employee gives birth earlier
Your employee gives birth earlier than the expected delivery date. What about the duration of the leave? Suppose the maternity leave has started 6 weeks before the due date. However, your employee gives birth 1 week earlier than this date. Then the maternity leave lasts in total 16 weeks: 5 weeks before and 11 weeks after the delivery.
Employee gives birth later
Your employee gives birth later than expected. What about the duration of the leave? Suppose your maternity leave started 6 weeks before the expected delivery date. However, your employee gives birth 1 week later than this date. Then the total maternity leave lasts 17 weeks: 7 weeks before and 10 weeks after the delivery.
Employee gives birth before the start of the leave period
Your employee gives birth before the beginning of the leave period. What about the duration of the leave? Suppose your employee gives birth 8 weeks before the expected delivery date, so even before her leave has started. Then her leave starts the day after the birth. The total leave then lasts 16 weeks. Please note: on the day of her delivery, your employee is entitled to a Sickness Benefits Act benefit.
Employee’s child is hospitalized after birth
Is your employee’s child hospitalized after birth? Then in some cases your employee can take longer maternity leave. This regulation came into effect on January 1, 2015. Your employee’s maternity leave must then have started on or after January 1, 2015.
If your employee’s child has to stay in the hospital for more than 7 days after the birth, the maternity leave may be longer (maximum 10 weeks). UWV calculates the extra days of leave in 4 steps:
- Check how many days your employee’s child is in the hospital. If it concerns multiple hospitalizations, add these days together. This also applies if the child is admitted to different hospitals.
- Subtract the first 7 days from the total hospitalization.
- Then from the remaining days of hospitalization, count only the number of days that fall within the maternity leave. You continue to calculate with this number of days.
- Did the maternity leave last longer than 10 weeks? For example, because your employee gave birth before the due date? Or because she took less than 6 weeks maternity leave? You then subtract the number of days that her maternity leave lasts longer than 10 weeks from the outcome of step 3. What remains then are the extra days of maternity leave.
If her maternity leave lasted 10 weeks, the outcome of step 3 applies.
Taking maternity leave flexibly
After giving birth, your employee is always entitled to at least 10 weeks leave. She must take 6 weeks of this leave consecutively after giving birth. The rest of her maternity leave can, in consultation with you, be taken flexibly over a period of 30 weeks. For example, she can choose to start working one or more days a week again. Or she can first return to work for a number of weeks and then take the rest of the leave flexibly.
You should discuss this with your employee no later than 3 weeks after her maternity leave has started. You may only refuse her request if you have a very important reason for doing so (this is also referred to as ‘compelling business interest’). You must respond to your employee within 2 weeks of her request.
Note: although your employee may, in consultation with you, choose to take the maternity leave flexibly, the UWV will pay the WAZO allowance to you or your employee consecutively.
The amount of the maternity benefit
Maternity benefit is 100% of the daily wage. The UWV calculates the daily wage on the basis of the SV wage earned by your employee during the employment in which her leave began. The SV wage is taken from the monthly wage tax returns which were filed with the tax authorities. The UWV looks at a period of 1 year, ending on the last day of the month before last or 4 weeks prior to the day on which the maternity leave starts. This period is called the reference period.
My employee is sick around her pregnancy
If your employee is sick during or after her pregnancy, different rules apply. This has to do with:
- the cause of her illness: whether or not it was caused by pregnancy or childbirth;
- the moment your employee becomes ill: before, during or after her maternity leave.
You continue to pay her salary during her illness. In some situations, maternity pay starts earlier. Or you can apply for a Sickness Benefits Act benefit for your employee.
Special situation: twins or multiple births
Is your employee pregnant with twins or multiple births? Then her maternity leave starts between 10 and 8 weeks before the day after the due date.
Adjusting your work
You must provide your employee with information about the risks of work for the pregnancy, the unborn child and the employee herself. Risks to a pregnant employee include:
- heavy work;
- working under great psychological strain (for example, stress or aggression);
- working under pressure, noise, vibration, and radiation;
- irregular working hours;
- working with hazardous substances;
- exposure to biological agents.
You must eliminate the risks by adjusting the work or the workplace, changing the working hours or giving the employee other work or exemption from work.
Adjusted working hours
Your pregnant employee is entitled to extra breaks up to a maximum of one-eighth of her daily working time. During pregnancy and up to 6 months after giving birth, your employee may work a maximum of 10 hours per shift. In a 4-week period, your employee may not work more than an average of 50 hours per week. For a 16-week period, it is not more than 45 hours per week on average. Your employee may not work night shifts unless you can show that this is logically impossible.
Breastfeeding at work
You must give your employee the time and space to pump or breastfeed during the first 9 months after giving birth. This may be done as often and as long as necessary. But it may not last longer than a quarter of the shift. You must have a space (lactation room) for this purpose that is hygienic and that the employee can lock. The time your employee has to feed or pump is working time. You must continue to pay for this time.