Health and Safety
Where you inform us in writing of your pregnancy, we will, where required by law to do so, carry out a risk assessment of your working environment.
If you consider that your working environment could cause a risk to you or your unborn child, you should notify your line manager in writing as soon as you are aware that you are pregnant. This matter will be treated in the strictest confidence. If you are employed in a position which has been identified as posing a risk to your health or that of your unborn child, you will be notified immediately, and arrangements will be made to eliminate that risk. Arrangements will be made to alter your working conditions if necessary or, if this is not possible, you will be offered a suitable alternative job for the duration of your pregnancy. If there is no alternative work, we reserve the right to suspend you on full pay until you are no longer at risk.
We may also carry out a risk assessment if you return to work within six months of giving birth or are still breastfeeding. If you remain at risk, these arrangements may continue for six months after the birth of your child.
If you have any concerns about your own health and safety at any time, you should raise these with your line manager immediately.
Time off for Antenatal Care
Pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable time off with pay during normal working hours to receive antenatal care. Antenatal care includes appointments with your GP, hospital clinics and antenatal classes. It would be helpful if you could try to arrange your appointments at the start or end of the working day, whenever possible. You may be required to produce an appointment card or some other document confirming all appointments other than the first. You should notify us as far in advance of your appointment as possible.
You are legally required to take at least a two-week period of maternity leave immediately after the birth of your child.
You are entitled to take 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave (OML), irrespective of your length of service or the number of hours worked each week, provided you comply with certain notification requirements (see below).
The medical practitioner responsible for your maternity care will provide you with a form MATB1 as proof of pregnancy after your 20th week of pregnancy. This should be passed to your line manager.
If you qualify for OML you are also entitled to take additional maternity leave (AML). This is a further 26 week period that starts the day after your OML ends. You are not obliged to take the full 26 weeks AML.
Only one period of leave is available for each pregnancy even if more than one child is born.
Starting Maternity Leave
You can choose to start your maternity leave at any time after the start of the 11th week before the week in which your child is due, up until the birth of your child. If you are absent from work wholly or partly because of your pregnancy at any time after the start of the fourth week before your child is due, we reserve the right to require you to start your maternity leave on the first day after your absence commences.
If a pregnant employee loses her baby after 24 or more weeks of pregnancy, or if the baby is stillborn, she is still entitled to maternity leave. She should tell us as soon as possible after the baby is lost that she is starting maternity leave.
No later than the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) you must give notice in writing that you are pregnant and confirming the week in which your child is due. Your written notice should also confirm whether you intend to take ordinary maternity leave and/or additional maternity leave and when you want your maternity leave to start. If you have properly notified us (see below) of the date on which you wish to start your maternity leave, you may vary that date provided you notify us in writing of the new date at least 28 days in advance of the new date, unless the baby is born early.
If you give birth before your OML was due to start, your OML period will begin on the day that follows childbirth. In these circumstances you do not need to notify us of the date on which you intend to start OML, but you are not entitled to OML unless you have notified us in writing as soon as is reasonably practicable that you have given birth and the date on which the birth occurred.
If you notify us of the intended start date or that your OML period has been triggered due to premature absence or premature childbirth, we will notify you, in writing of the date on which your OML period will end and the date your AML period will end.
If you have at least 26 weeks’ service at the start of the 15th week before your child is born you will normally be entitled to receive statutory maternity pay (SMP) whether or not you intend to return to work.
SMP is payable for a maximum of 39 weeks, meaning that the last 13 weeks of AML are unpaid. For the first six weeks of maternity leave you will be paid at the rate of 90% of your average earnings. After this time, you will be paid at the SMP rate which is payable at the time or 90% of your weekly earnings, whichever is the lower.
Your maternity pay will be paid into your bank account on the same date that you would have received your salary and will be subject to the usual deductions for tax, National Insurance and pension contributions.
You will continue to receive all contractual benefits, other than remuneration, during your maternity leave period. In particular, any benefits in kind will continue and annual leave entitlement will continue to accrue.
Pension contributions will continue to be made during any period when you are receiving SMP but not during any period of unpaid AML. Employer contributions will be based on your normal salary, in accordance with the pension scheme rules. Employee contributions you make will be based on the amount of maternity pay you are receiving.
While you are on OML or AML your holiday entitlement continues to accrue. We reserve the right to require you to take blocks of annual leave either immediately before or immediately after your period of maternity leave.
Keeping in touch days
You may work for up to 10 days Keeping In Touch (KIT) days during your period of maternity leave without affecting your eligibility to SMP. You are under no obligation to work these days and we are under no obligation to offer them to you. If you do work a KIT day, your rate of pay for the day will be agreed between us at the time and will normally equate to your normal rate of pay.
Returning to work
If you do not give any notice to the contrary, it will be assumed that your maternity leave will last 52 weeks. Although you are not required to give any formal notice of returning to work at the end of 52 weeks, it helps us to plan for your return if you contact us in advance to discuss your return. If you wish to change your return to work date at any stage, you must give at least eight weeks’ notice of the new date on which you intend to return.
You will usually return to the original job that you held prior to going off on maternity leave. In certain circumstances we are not obliged to have you return to exactly the same job if this is not reasonably practicable. In these circumstances, you will be offered a reasonable alternative role with terms and conditions no less favourable than the original job. If this is the case we will discuss your particular circumstances with you at the relevant time.
If you decide not to return to work, you must give notice in accordance with the terms of your contract. If you have received pay in excess of SMP you will have to repay this amount to us upon termination of your employment.
Shared parental leave
If you would like to end your maternity leave period early and take shared parental leave with your partner, you should refer to the terms of the Shared Parental Leave Policy contained in this handbook for further information regarding the eligibility and notification requirements relating to Shared Parental Leave and Statutory Shared Parental Pay.