Human Resources

Shared parental leave

Parents are be able to choose to convert maternity/adoption leave and pay to parent leave which can be shared between them.

For more information see Shared Parental Leave policy

Maternity/adoption leave

1. Introduction

This policy sets out the contractual and statutory maternity and adoption rights for eligible employees wishing to take maternity leave or those wishing to take adoption leave when a child is newly placed for adoption.

Maternity and adoption pay and leave entitlements

For maternity leave regardless of your length of service with the University, you are entitled to up to 52 weeks maternity leave. This is 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave plus 26 weeks additional maternity leave.

For adoption leave you need to have 26 weeks continuous service with the University to qualify for statutory adoption leave and pay.

However, the amount of maternity/adoption pay you receive will depend on your length of service and on whether or not you intend to return to work following your maternity/adoption leave.

We encourage you to let the University know what your intentions are at your earliest opportunity, by discussing your particular maternity/adoption leave and benefits queries in confidence with either your manager or your HR Advisor.

2. Maternity leave

The law requires that you take a minimum of 2 weeks maternity leave from the date of the birth. You should complete the Maternity Leave application form (keeping a copy for your own records) and submit to your HR Advisor no later than 15 weeks before your Expected Week of Confinement (EWC) detailing the following:

  • the fact you are pregnant
  • the EWC - this is normally confirmed in the form of a MATB1 issued by your GP or midwife 20 weeks before your due date
  • the date on which you would like to start your maternity leave
  • whether or not it is your intention to return to work

When can I start maternity leave?

You may start your maternity leave at any time from the 11th week before the expected date of birth. Your HR Advisor will acknowledge receipt of your maternity leave application form and will write to you within 28 days confirming the date on which your maternity leave will end and the actual date you will be expected to return to work.

Can I change my maternity start date after I have submitted my application form?

If after you have submitted your application form you decide to change the start date of your maternity leave, you should notify your HR Advisor, in writing, giving at least 8 week’s notice of your revised date. Your HR Advisor will write to you within 28 days of receiving this notification confirming your revised start date and end date.

What happens if my baby is born early?

If your baby is born before the commencement of your maternity leave, the maternity leave will begin automatically on the day after the birth. If this happens you should contact your manager and HR Advisor as soon as reasonably practical and confirm in writing the actual birth date. The HR Advisor will then write to you confirming the new end date of your maternity leave.

What happens if I fall sick before starting maternity leave?

If you fall sick with a pregnancy-related illness after the beginning of the 4th week before the expected birth date, maternity leave will automatically start on the day after the first day of absence. You do not qualify for sick pay whilst on maternity leave.

In the granting of maternity leave, the University policy makes no distinction between live births and stillbirths occurring at or after the 24th week of pregnancy. You will still qualify for leave or pay.

3. Maternity pay

There are two types of maternity pay:

  • Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP): This is money we pay to you on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for up to 39 weeks. No maternity payment can be made until your MATB1 has been received by Payroll.
  • Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP): You are paid this if you have the required length of service with the University. Sometimes this is paid on top of SMP; sometimes the SMP is offset against part of this money.

How do I qualify for SMP?

You need to have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service with the University up to the “the qualifying week” - the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth, to receive SMP from the University. In addition your average weekly earnings in the 8 weeks up to and including the qualifying week must be at least equivalent of the lower earnings limit for Class1 National Insurance contributions.

SMP is paid for a total of 39 weeks as follows:

  • the first 6 weeks are paid at the higher SMP rate (90% of average weekly earnings before tax);
  • the remaining 33 weeks are paid at the lower SMP rate or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is the lower.

How do I qualify for OMP?

You need to have been continuously employed in the University for at least 52 weeks at the EWC to receive OMP under the University’s OMP Scheme. You are also required to return to work at the University, in a full or part time capacity, for at least three months following maternity leave.

OMP is paid as follows:

  • the first 8 weeks of SMP are topped up to full pay by OMP, the following 18 weeks OMP are paid at half pay (this is paid in addition to SMP up to a maximum of full pay);
  • the following 13 weeks are paid at the lower SMP rate (or 90% if your average weekly earnings are less);
  • the remaining 13 weeks are unpaid leave.

What if I don’t qualify for SMP or OMP?

If you have less than 26 weeks continuous service by the 15th week before your EWC or your average weekly earnings are below the level at which National Insurance is payable, you will not qualify for SMP but you may qualify for Maternity Allowance which is paid through Job Centre Plus. If you are not entitled to SMP Payroll will return your maternity application form to you with the SMP1 Exclusion Form so that you can apply to the Department of Works and Pensions for the Maternity Allowance.

Risk assessment for pregnant employees

The University acknowledges the importance of protecting from avoidable risk pregnant and breastfeeding employees and their children. Your manager should carry out a risk assessment of your working environment. A checklist is available from the University Health, Safety and Environment Service Unit or from your HR Advisor.

If following an assessment of your normal work activities, you are unable to carry out your usual duties due to possible risk to your baby, adjustments will be made to remove any hazard during the period of pregnancy. Where this is not possible for operational or research reasons, the University will need to consider suitable alternative work for you. Should this not be possible you will be suspended from work on full pay on medical grounds until the risks to you or your baby’s health has passed or suitable alternative work becomes available. These provisions do not apply where your doctor has signed you off sick, but only where you are able to come to work but unable to carry out your particular work activities.

Ante-natal care

Reasonable paid time off work to attend antenatal care as recommended by a doctor or midwife. However, evidence of appointments may be requested. It is advisable to give your manager as much notice as possible of your appointments. Such time off will be on full pay and you will not be required to make up the hours lost.

From 1 October 2014 husbands/civil partners/ partners of pregnant women will have a right to unpaid time off to attend up to 2 antenatal appointments. Prosepctive adopters will also qualify to attend adoption meetings (5 paid appointments for primary adopters, 2 unpaid appointments for secondary adopters.

4. Adoption leave

You should complete the adoption leave application form and send it to your HR Advisor within 7 days of being matched with a child for adoption and detailing the following:

  • the ‘date of placement’ - when the child is expected to be placed with you
  • the date on which you would like to start your adoption leave
  • a “ matching certificate” provided by the adoption agency

When can I start adoption leave?

The earliest point at which you may start your adoption leave is 14 days before the child is placed with you for adoption and no later than the day the child is placed with you for adoption. The HR Advisor will confirm in writing within 28 days of receiving your application form your adoption leave start and end dates.

How do I qualify for adoption leave?

You need to have 26 weeks continuous service with the University up to and including the week in which you are notified of being matched with a child for adoption.

5. Adoption pay

There are two types of adoption pay:

  • Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP): This is money we pay to you on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for a period of 39 weeks.
  • Occupational Adoption Pay (OAP): You are paid this if you have the required length of service with the University. Sometimes this is paid on top of SAP; sometimes the SAP is offset against part of this money.

How do I qualify for SAP?

You need to have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service with the University up to and including the week the adoption agency told you that you had been matched with a child for adoption to receive SAP from the University. In addition your average weekly earnings in the 8 weeks up to and including ‘the qualifying week ‘(this is the 8th week before the child is placed for adoption) must be at least equivalent of the lower earnings limit for Class1 National Insurance contributions.

SAP is paid for a total of 39 weeks as follows:

  • the first 6 weeks are paid at higher rate SAP (90% of average weekly earnings before tax)
  • the remaining 33 weeks are paid at lower rate SAP or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is the lower.

How do I qualify for OAP?

You need to have been continuously employed in the University for at least 52 weeks at the date you are matched with a child to receive OAP under the University’s OAP Scheme. You are also required to return to work at the University, in a full or part time capacity, for at least three months following adoption leave.

OAP is paid as follows:

  • the first 8 weeks of SAP are topped up to full pay by OAP; the following 18 weeks OAP are paid at half pay (this is paid in addition to SAP up to a maximum of full pay)
  • the following 13 weeks are paid at the weekly SAP rate (or 90% if your average weekly earnings are less)
  • the remaining 13 weeks are unpaid leave.

You won’t normally be able to get SAP or OAP if you are becoming a special guardian, adopting a stepchild or having a child through surrogacy or a private adoption agreement.

Adopting from overseas

Please consult your HR Advisor if you are adopting from overseas as the rules are slightly different.

Time off for appointments

You may take reasonable paid time off to attend appointments with your Adoption Agency, Social Worker etc. once you have been accepted as adoptive parents. This will be during the period between being told that you are accepted and the “matching” confirmation. Please give your manager as much notice as possible of appointments and be prepared to provide evidence of appointments.

6. Not returning to work after maternity/adoption leave

If you have been in receipt of OMP or OAP and then decide not to return for the required period the University reserves the right to reclaim the whole or part of the non-statutory element of maternity pay. However, your right to SMP or SAP remains unaffected, regardless of whether or not you return.

If you are uncertain as to whether or not you intend to return to work you may wish to opt to hold over any pay in excess of your SMP/SAP and to receive this pay after you have returned to work for three months. You will then be paid the money in a lump sum.

7. Childcare voucher scheme

The University offers a child care voucher scheme in partnership with Fideliti. This enables you to make savings on your tax and National Insurance contributions. If you are interested in paying for childcare through this scheme please refer to the Fideliti website or contact the HR Manager (Reward) for further details.

8. Nursery

Westwood Nursery is the University's has a campus-based nursery.If you are a member of staff and your child/ren attend Westwood Nursery, you are eligible to join NurseryPlus. This is a salary exchange scheme which allows you to exchange a deduction from your salary prior to tax and national insurance in return for nursery care, which can result in significant savings on childcare costs.

How to record KIT days

Keeping In Touch Days form

9. Keeping in touch days (KIT)

By agreement with your manager and your Head of Department, you may undertake up to 10 days paid work during your maternity/adoption leave without bringing your maternity/adoption leave to an end. These are known as Keeping in Touch (KIT) days.

They may be used for any activity which would ordinarily be classed as work under your contract of employment, including training, attending a conference, committee or a team meeting or any activity undertaken for the purposes of keeping in touch with the workplace. They can be undertaken at any stage during maternity/adoption leave apart from the first two weeks after the birth.

If you work a KIT day during a period of full pay, no additional payment will be made but if you work during a period of half pay or SMP/SAP only, your pay will be ‘topped up’ so that you receive full pay for the hours worked. If you work for less than a full day, this will count as one KIT day for the purposes of the 10 maximum, although payment will only be made for actual hours worked.

KIT days are optional and can only take place by agreement between both you and your manager. You cannot be penalised for refusing to take up a KIT day. Similarly, you do not have a right to work a KIT day if your manager does not agree to it. It should be noted that any work undertaken as a KIT day would not extend the statutory maternity/adoption period in any way.

10. Contact during your maternity/adoption leave

The University is entitled to make reasonable contact with you during your maternity/adoption leave and it is important that you are kept informed of any developments at work. It is also appropriate that you make reasonable contact with your department.

You may wish to discuss any flexible working arrangements that would make your return to work easier. Options which may be available to you are outlined in the Flexible work and Leave Policy.

11. Contractual rights during and on return from maternity/adoption leave

During your maternity/adoption leave the University will maintain all contractual rights except for pay. You will receive OMP/OAP and/or SMP/SAP instead, provided you meet the qualifying requirements outlined under sections 3 or 4.

Annual leave

You will continue to accrue annual leave, statutory and Bank Holidays for the entire period of maternity/adoption leave in accordance with your leave entitlement as set out in your contract of employment. We therefore recommend that all or as much of this annual leave entitlement as possible is taken before starting maternity/adoption leave.

You may choose to take annual leave accrued during your maternity/adoption leave at the end of your paid leave period; you will then be put back on the payroll but your actual physical return will not be until the end of your matemity/adoption period. You should discuss this with your manager and book leave through iTrent in the usual way. You cannot automatically use accrued leave to extend your maternity/adoption leave without approval from your manager.

If you wish to return from maternity/adoption leave on reduced hours you will need to discuss with your manager how your accrued leave can be most conveniently taken. For example, it may be appropriate to take that leave before the reduced hours come into effect at the end of your maternity/adoption leave.

Continuous service

Where you exercise your right to return to work, all periods of time that you take off work as maternity/adoption leave are subsequently counted as continuous service for the purposes of calculating any service-related statutory rights. Thus once you return to work, your length of service is calculated as if you had never been absent.

Pension

Pension rights and contributions shall be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the relevant University pension scheme, providing that these provisions do not conflict with any relevant statutory requirements that may at the time apply.

For members of USS and LGPS your contributions will be maintained in full for any period you are in receipt of pay, whether contractual or SMP/SAP. Any unpaid maternity/adoption leave is treated as suspended membership and will not count as pensionable service. You may elect, before your maternity/adoption leave commences, not to contribute during your maternity/adoption leave. On your return to work you will have the option to pay additional contributions to make up the difference so this can count as pensionable service. The University will also pay the appropriate normal employer contribution.

For further details on pension please contact the Pensions Officer.

Annual increments

Where applicable you will be entitled to receive the normal annual increment on your pay scale in accordance with your contract of employment, to take effect from your normal incremental date.

Returning to your job

If you choose to return to work at the end of ordinary maternity/adoption leave, you have the right to return to the same post. If you take additional maternity/adoption leave, you will normally return to the same post. However, if this is not feasible you are entitled to return to a post on the same terms and conditions or no less favourable than those which applied before maternity/adoption leave. If you unreasonably refuse to take a similar job the University will take this as your resignation.

Redundancy

Should a redundancy situation arise while you are on maternity/adoption leave which could affect your post, you will be consulted about the continuation of your employment, and will be given priority as far as suitable alternative employment is concerned.
 

12. Notification to return or not to return to work

If you intend to return to work at the end of your full 52 weeks’ maternity leave entitlement you are not required to give notice of your return. Although there is no legal requirement for you to give advance notice of your intention to return at the end of your full maternity/adoption leave period, you are encouraged to keep your manager and Head of Department informed of your intentions so that appropriate cover and workloads can be planned.

Can I return earlier than my maternity/adoption leave end date?

If you decide to return prior to the end of your full maternity/adoption period you should give your Manager and HR Advisor at least 8 weeks’ notice, in writing, of your intended date of return. If you fail to give the required notice, the University may postpone your return for up to 8 weeks or until your maternity/adoption leave entitlement has been exhausted.

Non-return to work

If you do not wish to return to work at the end of your maternity/adoption leave, you should give the University written notice as per your contract and before the end of your maternity/adoption period. If a resignation date is not specified your resignation will be effective from the end of your paid maternity/adoption leave period. If you have received OMP/OAP you should contact Payroll to make arrangements to pay this back.

Should I resign rather than take maternity/adoption leave?

You are strongly encouraged to use your right to return to work and to keep your options open by indicating that you will return to work. You can then notify us at a later stage if you decide not to return to work. Otherwise if you resign instead of taking maternity/adoption leave, you will forfeit your right to return to work at a later date.

What happens if I am ill?

If at the end of your maternity leave you are unable to return to work due to illness you should submit a Fit note in the usual way and you will then transfer from maternity leave to sick leave. Normal conditions governing sickness absence will then apply.

Request to vary your hours or work pattern

If you are thinking of varying your present pattern or hours of work on return from maternity/adoption leave you should discuss it with your Manager at the earliest opportunity or at least 8 weeks before your return date. If you have 26 weeks service at the date of application you are entitled to apply to work flexibly. Whilst there is no automatic right to return to work on flexible hours, the University will give fair and thorough consideration to all requests to accommodate individuals wishing to vary their work pattern. Please refer to the Flexible Working and Leave Policy.

13. Fixed term/externally funded contracts

If you are on a fixed term contract and your contract expires whilst you are on maternity/ adoption leave, or prior to the completion of 3 months’ work on return, you should contact your Manager and HR Advisor in advance of the contract end date for guidance. They will follow the consultation process and investigate any possibility of extension.

Where a fixed term contract ceases after the 15th week before the EWC or during paid maternity/adoption leave, OMP/OAP will cease with effect from the contract end date. The University will continue to pay you SMP/SAP, if eligible, so you will remain on the University Payroll for the remainder of the pay period for payroll purposes only. If your post is funded from a grant you should contact your supervisor or grant holder and HR Advisor at the earliest opportunity to discuss payment of your salary during maternity/adoption leave. Some sponsors have a policy to extend a grant to cover maternity/adoption leave.

14. Time off for IVF treatment

The University will support up to 5 days per annum paid time off to support staff undergoing IVF treatment. This should be booked in advance through your manager in the normal way. If you require further advice on this you may find it useful to arrange to meet your HR Advisor for a confidential discussion.

15. Other related policies

Related policies include: