People often ask me “does my maternity leave affect my bonus?”
This is one of the most difficult questions in discrimination law. The answer is that it depends on what you bonus is based on. Your employer may well be justified in reducing it due to your period of maternity leave.
A woman on maternity leave remains entitled to her contractual benefits whilst on maternity leave apart from those relating to wages or salary, which would include a contractual bonus. Therefore, a woman on maternity leave is entitled to be paid a bonus in respect of:
- The time before she went on maternity leave
- The two weeks compulsory maternity leave
- The period after she returns to work after maternity leave.
A bonus payment must be made at the time it would normally have been had the woman not been on maternity leave. Employers may reduce a bonus to reflect the period that a woman was absent on maternity leave, except as referred to above.
If your discretionary bonus is based on attendance, your absence on maternity leave might have an impact on the bonus you receive. Similar to a contractual bonus based on company performance, if your discretionary bonus is dependent on either your attendance or your individual performance your employer can pro-rata your bonus payment based on your attendance. In other words, any absence on maternity leave other than the first two weeks could affect your bonus.
This does not mean that your contribution to the business should be overlooked when the company is giving out bonuses, for the time you were at work. Disputing your bonus due to maternity leave is a complex area of law so I would always recommend seeking legal advice if you find yourself in this situation.
If you have a bonus pay dispute call Slater and Gordon’s employment law solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help.