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Maternity policy

Understand your entitlements to maternity leave and pay.



We are committed to helping working parents balance the needs of work and family life. In addition to this maternity policy, there are also a number of family friendly policies aimed at supporting staff achieve work/life balance and meet demands faced when caring for dependents. These include flexible working, paternity leave, shared parental leave, adoption leave and unpaid parental leave.

Scope and purpose

This policy sets out the contractual and statutory maternity rights for all eligible employees wishing to take maternity leave. You can get further advice and guidance from our guidance for employees and guidance for managers.

The pregnant employee has a responsibility to:

i. Inform the line manager and the HR Advisor as soon as practicably possible that they are pregnant

ii. Complete a maternity leave application form and supply the original MATB1 to HR within the timescales laid down

iii. Maintain contact with the manager during the maternity leave period

iv. Follow the guidance provided

The Manager has a responsibility to:

i. Undertake a risk assessment for expectant employees

ii. Support the pregnant member of staff and ensure fairness and consistency in the application of the policy

iii. Follow the guidance provided

HR have a responsibility to:

i. Meet and advise the pregnant member of staff on the application of the policy and guidance and adhere to employment law

ii. Provide the manager with guidance and advice on the application of the policy

iii. Review the policy on an on-going basis to ensure that it follows all legal and regulatory requirements.

Payroll have a responsibility to:

i. Pay Occupational Maternity Pay and/or Statutory Maternity Pay in accordance with the employee’s contractual rights

ii. Provide an SMP1 form for those employees who are not entitled to either Occupational or Statutory Maternity Pay

iii. Confirm payments due to the employee whilst on maternity leave

Maternity Leave

1) All employees are entitled to take up to 52 weeks Statutory Maternity Leave regardless of their length of service. The leave will be unpaid unless the staff member is entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay or Occupational Maternity Pay, as outlined in paragraphs 8–14.

2) Statutory Maternity Leave can begin at any time from the start of the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) up to the day childbirth occurs. Staff are required by law to take two weeks compulsory leave immediately following childbirth.

3) To take Statutory Maternity Leave the employee must notify the University of their intention by the end of the 15th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC), by submitting a maternity leave application form.

4) If the employee wishes to change the start of their Statutory Maternity Leave, they must give the University 28 days’ notice of this. If this is not practicable, notice should be given as soon as is reasonably possible.

5) If the employee falls 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. If the baby is born before the commencement of the agreed maternity leave, the maternity leave will begin automatically on the day after the birth.

6) If the employee wishes to change their return-to-work date, they must give at least eight weeks’ notice in writing of their intended return date. If an employee wishes to return earlier than agreed, at least eight weeks’ notice should be given before the new return date. If sufficient notice is not provided, the University may postpone the return by up to eight weeks or until the maternity leave entitlement has been exhausted. Employees wishing to return later than initially agreed should give eight week’s notice before their original agreed return date.

7) Pregnant staff are entitled to reasonable paid time off work to attend antenatal care as recommended by a doctor or midwife. Evidence of appointments may be requested. Their partner has the right to unpaid time off to attend up to 2 antenatal appointments.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

8) The employee is eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) during Statutory Maternity Leave if they:

  • have been continuously employed by the University for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before their EWC; and
  • pay National Insurance contributions on their earnings

9) If the employee is not able to receive SMP, they may be entitled to receive Maternity Allowance from Jobcentre Plus, and will be given an SMP1 Exclusion form by Payroll so that an application can be made to the Department of Work & Pensions.

10) SMP is paid for the first 39 weeks of maternity leave 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 your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower
  • the last 13 weeks of a 52 week period of Statutory Maternity Leave are unpaid

Occupational Maternity Pay

11) To be eligible to receive Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP) the employee has to have been continuously employed at the University for at least 52 weeks at the EWC and return to work for a minimum of three months following their chosen leave period.

12) OMP is paid as follows:

  • the first 8 weeks of SMP are topped up to full pay by OMP
  • the following 18 weeks OMP is paid at half pay, topped up by SMP up to the maximum of full pay
  • alternatively you can take 17 weeks at full pay, but there will be no entitlement to half pay
  • the following 13 weeks are the lower SMP rate only (or 90% if of the average weekly earnings are less)
  • the remaining 13 weeks are unpaid

Alternatively the employee can choose to take 17 weeks at full pay. The member of staff would not be entitled to half pay if they chose this option. The remaining 22 weeks of paid leave will be at the lower SMP rate or 90% of average weekly earnings.

13) The provisions of the OMP Scheme are based on a continuing contract of employment. Should the member of staff decide not return to work for at least three months following the end of their leave period, the University reserves the right to recover any payments of OMP that are in excess of the Statutory Maternity Pay entitlement. If the member of staff is on a fixed term contract which ends during their maternity leave or before the completion of their 3 month return to work period they will not be expected to repay OMP.

14) Where staff have one year’s continuous service prior to their EWC, but are employed on a fixed term contract which expires whilst they are on maternity and prior to the three months’ work on return they should contact their manager and HR Advisor in advance of the contract end date for guidance. Where a fixed term contract ceases after the 15th week before the EWC or during paid maternity leave OMP will cease with effect from the contract end date.

The University will continue to pay SMP, if eligible, so the employee will remain on the University Payroll for the remainder of the pay period for payroll purposes only. If the post is funded by a grant, the member of staff should contact their supervisor or grant holder and HR Advisor at the earliest opportunity to discuss payment of their salary during maternity leave. Some sponsors have a policy to extend a grant to cover maternity leave.

How the University supports this policy

Maternity guidance for staff and managers have been developed to guide both managers and staff through the maternity process by providing a concise overview of what to expect and consider before, during and after maternity leave.

What to do next

Full details explaining the provisions available in relation to maternity, eligibility requirements and notification processes are detailed within the maternity leave guidance. These can be accessed from the following links:

Your HR Advisor will be happy to meet with any members of staff to discuss maternity arrangements.

A maternity leave application form can be downloaded from this webpage.

Document control

Date of last review: November 2018 (minor revisions following review)

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