As the Duchess of Cambridge cancels her official duties due to severe morning sickness, we look at what the Palace would need to know if it were deemed to be her employer
As soon as it was notified it would be required to undertake a risk assessment to identify any particular risks to her or to her unborn 5th in line to the throne – perhaps stress on joints caused by constant public walkabouts, swollen ankles exacerbated by repetitive wearing of high-heeled shoes? Significant risks may necessitate reasonable adjustments such as changes to her working conditions or hours, or providing alternative work.
The Palace would be required to provide reasonable paid time off for Kate to attend antenatal care, including travel time to attend appointments and classes, such as yoga or relaxation, recommended by her doctor or midwife.
Absence due to pregnancy
Kate’s already needed to take time off due to illness caused by her condition – could the Palace give her a warning about any further absence? No. Pregnancy-related absence must be treated differently from normal absence, and the Palace can’t subject Kate to a detriment because of it, regardless of how long it lasts. However, she would still be required to follow the Palace’s normal policy in respect of absence notification. If she were absent with a pregnancy-related condition during the 4 weeks immediately preceding her due date, this would trigger her maternity leave.
She would be entitled to up to a year off from her royal duties. If she and the Palace agreed, she could work for up to 5 “Keeping in Touch” days without bringing her leave to an end – perhaps attending the odd State Dinner.
She would be entitled to 39 weeks of maternity pay – 6 at 90% of her normal earnings and the remaining 33 at the flat rate of £140.98 per week.
Return to Work
At the end of her maternity leave, she would have the right to return to her same royal duties, unless this were not reasonably practicable, in which case she would have a right to return to another suitable job on terms and conditions not less favourable.
However, £140.98 per week isn’t much for a Duchess, so she might decide to return to work early. If so, she needs to give the Palace at least 8 weeks’ notice.
Shared Parental Leave
Don’t forget the Duke in all of this – Kate might relish going back to her royal walkabouts and leaving William at Kensington Palace to change royal nappies and entertain George and Charlotte. If he’s agreeable, she can return to work early leaving him to use the remaining portion of her leave entitlement and any remaining maternity pay.
For a more comprehensive run through of current Maternity and Paternity rights (in relation to non-royal employees), we’ve produced a factsheet and made it available for download here – just fill out the form out and click on the relevant link.