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Ministers announce protection of family-related statutory payments for furloughed workers

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BT Coleraine

Furloughed workers who are entitled to statutory family-related payments will not lose out.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds and Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey today announced changes to regulations which mean that people who are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay and Statutory Shared Parental Pay will not be disadvantaged if they are furloughed. The changes will come into effect tomorrow (Saturday).

Minister Dodds said: “I have been keen to do whatever I can to protect workers during the current crisis. The regulation changes that I have approved mean that those who are entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay and Statutory Shared Parental Pay will have the amounts calculated based on their full pay and not the 80% furlough rate.”

Minister Hargey said: “Maternity Pay is intended to provide a measure of income replacement to allow women to take time off work to protect their own health and safety and that of their baby. The urgent regulations that I have approved changes how normal weekly earnings are calculated, to ensure that women who are receiving reduced pay as a result of being placed on furlough by their employer could be considered as receiving full pay for the purposes of Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Pay.”

Minister Hargey added: “This will mean a woman’s entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay will not be affected. It will protect the role of maternity pay in ensuring women’s health and safety; and reduces the significant risk that, as a result of the less favourable maternity pay available, women may choose to stay in work later than planned, or return earlier. This would undermine the role of maternity pay in protecting women’s health and wellbeing.”

Concluding, Minister Hargey said: “My priority remains that everything that can be done will be done to protect workers during this current crisis.”

Minister Dodds also confirmed that changes to regulations, which she recently proposed, to ensure workers can carry over some annual leave if they have been unable to take it due to the COVID-19 crisis are now in effect.

Mrs Dodds added: “I am also pleased that people who might not be able to take annual leave due to the pandemic – for example to ensure continuation of an essential service or cover staff sickness or self-isolation – will be able to carry over up to four weeks of annual leave to the next two leave years.

“These changes are good news for workers and keep Northern Ireland in line with similar changes made to entitlements available in Great Britain.”

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