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Your Rights; SUE BENT from Coventry Law Centre answers your legal questions.

Sue Bent of the Coventry Law Centre answers questions on housing, health and community care, human rights, discrimination, welfare rights, employment and immigration issues.

The centre employs solicitors and experienced paralegals and can represent clients in both court and in tribunal.

Q I am due to take my maternity leave in the next few weeks and I have been told by my boss that I will receive pounds 108.85 maternity pay, but I have read somewhere that this has increased. Is this true? If so, how much is maternity pay? I am hoping to return to work after I've had my baby. How much notice do I have to give to my employer?

A From April 1, 2007, the rates of Statutory Maternity Pay increased from pounds 108.85 a week to pounds 112.75 a week. If your employer fails to pay you the correct rate of maternity pay you may be able to take action against him in the Employment Tribunal.

Once you have notified your employer of your intended dates of maternity leave, he must write to you within 28 days, to confirm your return date. After that, you can change your return date if you give your employer 28 days' notice. However, if you wish to return to work early, you are now required to give your employer eight weeks notice of your intention to return to work.

Notifications to your employer should always be in writing.

Q My brother suffers from severe learning difficulties. He would never be able to work in a proper job. He has been able to do some work under various schemes but only for a few hours and we often have to collect him from the workplace because of unfortunate incidents. He was examined by a doctor at the Benefits Office for about 12 minutes, asked a few questions and was found capable of work. I know this cannot be right but what can we do next?

A Your brother has the right of appeal against this decision. The appeal should be made within one month of the date of decision. The letter should give reasons or grounds of appeal. You can obtain assistance with completion of the appeal form from Coventry Benefits Advice Line on 024 7683 2000 or a local advice centre.

A claimant is exempt from the personal capability assessment which decides incapacity for work if they have a severe learning disability. The doctor may not have considered this exemption if your brother can answer the everyday questions about his daily living, especially if the doctor does not go below the surface to find out whether the answers were correct. The definition of a severe learning disability involves severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning caused by the arrested or incomplete development of the brain or by severe brain damage.

Alternatively, your brother could simply receive enough points under the mental health assessment because of his medical condition.

You can contact the Law Centre for advice and representation with the actual appeal tribunal. You could write to the Department of Social Security if you think the medical was not performed thoroughly.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Apr 5, 2007
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