The Employment Appeal Tribunal has now confirmed that employers do not have to continue salary sacrifice schemes, such as childcare vouchers, during maternity leave.
This case hinged on whether salary sacrifice schemes were classed as “remuneration” or non-pay benefits. Women cease to be entitled to the former during periods of maternity leave, but it would be discriminatory to fail to provide them with the latter.
For example, a woman who has a company car or company health care plan should continue to receive the benefit of these under her contract during her maternity leave, as these are non-pay benefits. If an employer were to stop these then this would amount to discrimination, as the reason for her absence and the removal of the benefit is her pregnancy and/or maternity leave.
However, women do not have to receive their full pay during maternity leave. Employers can pay only Statutory Maternity pay.
Initially the Employment Tribunal had taken the view, following guidance from HMRC publications, that childcare vouchers were a non-cash benefit and so employers had to continue to make them available during maternity leave.
However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal have reversed this decision. They took the view that salary sacrifice schemes were a diversion of pay, and so essentially were part of the remuneration package. Accordingly they would not have to be paid during periods of maternity leave.
If you have a questions about your parental rights, or if you have any other questions relating to your employment rights, then we can help. Here at Beecham Peacock we have a trusted relationship with some of the largest trade unions in the country to protect your working rights. For further information call us on 0191 232 3048 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.