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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Is it possible to agree a special bonus will be payable to

Resolved Question:

Is it possible to agree a special bonus will be payable to an employee IF she returns to work after maternity leave and stays for, say, at least 6 months i.e. an additional incentive to return?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Is such a bonus payable to other employees as well?

Customer:

It is not mentioned in their contracts at all and we do not yet have a staff handbook. We are a small company iin the UK, with only one other woman of the appropriate age. This is the first time we have had a maternity 'event'. We would like to go beyond statutory provisions, but still protect the company.

Ben Jones :

Legally it would be possible to have such a bonus in place as long as you ensure the person on ML is not treated less favourably than other employees. So for example it would be a problem if all employees received a similar bonus (for example after a certain period with the company) but you make the one for the maternity person conditional on her returning – this would be discriminatory because she is being treated less favourably than other employees. What employers usually do is pay the employee enhanced maternity pay and have a contractual condition that they must repay all or part of it if they fail to return and work for a specific period of time after their ML. So this is another option.

Customer:

Ah, I had though that option would not be allowed. And I much prefer it!

Customer:

Related question: if an employee is entitled to a performance related bonus (performance not well defined, but implies over achievement) then how is this dealt with during maternity?

Customer:

Also, are there any recovery or other issues with your suggested option?

Ben Jones :

With the bonus you could make a pro rata reduction to take account of the leave, ignoring the two-week period of compulsory maternity leave.


 


As to the recovery, you could make it a clear condition that this is something you could do by deducting it from her pay but you must ensure she is aware of this provision and has accepted it in writing.

Customer:

I guess the recovery issue occurs if she doesn't stay and so has no pay...

Ben Jones :

yes it would usually allow you to recover the money from any pay you still owe her, but if there is none payable then you will have to consider pursuing her through the small claims court

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thanks

Customer:

That is fine, thanks Ben.

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