Many thanks for your patience. Maternity leave can start either on the employee’s chosen date, or automatically on a different date. The automatic start would apply in the following conditions:
· Premature birth, which is not the case here; or
· Absence from work for pregnancy-related reason - if the employee is absent from work "wholly or partly because of pregnancy" after the beginning of the fourth week before the due week, but before the date she has notified, her maternity leave begins automatically on the day after the first day of her absence
In all other circumstances, including where the employee is off sick for a non-pregnancy-related illness, her maternity leave will start on the chosen start date, as notified to the employer.
So the key here is whether the absence is wholly or partly because of her pregnancy. This is a question of fact. You could compare her position to those of others and for example take statements or find evidence that confirms that no one else was affected by the conditions in the office and that the only plausible explanation is that her reaction was exasperated by her pregnancy.
In terms of holidays, she is entitled to ask that she takes her holidays before her ML but as with any other time she is legally required to give you notice that is at least twice as long as the holidays to be taken, in this case 16 days’ notice. At the same time you are entitled to refuse her request by giving her notice equal to the holidays, so 8 days.
I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you