Returning to work

50% Pay completing 13 weeks pro-rata

Qualifying staff are entitled to 50% salary for the maternity leave period weeks 14 to 26 provided they return to work for 13 weeks at the same FTE (full-time equivalent) that they held before commencing maternity leave. If a member of staff reduces her FTE on return to work then the 13 week period will be extended until an equivalent time period has been worked. Contact the HR Directorate for further advice on individual cases.

Pay rises

Staff on maternity leave should benefit from pay rises that have been awarded between the eight weeks before the expected week of childbirth and the end of maternity leave, including additional maternity leave

A return date to work

The member of staff should choose the date on which she intends to resume work, provided:

  • it is no later than the first working day after the end of her maternity leave period
  • it is within any longer leave or absence period allowed on a voluntary or contractual basis by the University.

The University will assume that all staff will take 52 weeks maternity leave unless stated otherwise on their leave and pay form.  Staff who wish to change their mind whilst on maternity leave must give the University at least 8 weeks (56 days) notice of the change of return date. 

If a member of staff wishes to resign from her post and not return to work she must give her resignation in writing as soon as possible, giving at least her minimum contractual notice period, and her resignation will take effect from the date of the letter.

Extending the additional maternity absence period

There are six circumstances under which the additional maternity absence period may be extended:

a) the University may postpone a member of staff’s return until a date up to eight weeks after the date the member of staff has notified, but this is subject to notifying her in advance of the reasons for the postponement and of the new date of return.

b) the member of staff may postpone her return if she is ill when normal contractual provisions will apply.

c) if the member of staff has notified the University of her date of return but there is an interruption to work making it unreasonable to expect the member of staff to return on that date, she may instead return as soon as work resumes after the interruption, or as soon as reasonably practicable after that.

d) if the member of staff fails to notify the University of an intended date of return and due to an interruption of work it is unreasonable to expect her to return by the end of the normal maternity absence period, or it appears likely to have that effect, she may instead return on any date up to 8 weeks after the end of the interruption of work, provided the member of staff gives written notice of that date at least 8 weeks in advance.

e) if the member of staff has postponed her return to work due to illness as described above in (b), it may be postponed once more as described in (d), if there is an interruption of work which makes it unreasonable to expect the member of staff to return at the end of the first postponement.

f) if a member of staff’s return has been postponed due to an interruption of work as described above in (d), the member of staff may postpone it once more for up to four weeks as described in (b), if she gives The University in advance a medical certificate stating that due to illness she will be incapable of returning to work at the end of the interruption.

Career breaks

Career breaks are available and should be progressed through the career break policy.

Return to work meeting

When a member of staff returns from maternity leave, on her first day, she should have a return to work meeting with her Line Manager . The meeting will include:

  •  a discussion about her job
  • training that may be required due to any changes that have happened whilst she has been on maternity leave
  • a risk assessment of her job and whether she is breastfeeding as this will impact on the risk assessment (must complete the form, Risk Assessment record for Workers Returning from Maternity Leave)
  • ensuring that the member of staff is fully aware of the support mechanisms within the University such as Occupational Health, UNISON, UCU,  HR Department
  • ensuring the member of staff is fully aware of her entitlement to Parental Leave (must have a minimum of one years continuous service), and the possibility of working part time in the future should this be required.
  • Information about the Brookes Nursery and the Childcare Vouchers that Brookes offers

Failure to return after additional maternity leave

Where a member of staff fails to return from Additional Maternity Leave the contract continues until it is terminated by either the member of staff or the University or possibly until the contract is frustrated. The University need to consider the potential unfair dismissal and/or sex discrimination claims that could be made should the correct procedure not be followed. The procedure to follow will depend on the reason for failure to return.

Refusal to allow a member of staff to return from additional maternity leave

Members of staff remain employed during Additional Maternity Leave. If the University refuse to allow a member of staff to return it is likely to be automatic unfair dismissal.

Sick when due to return to work

If a member of staff is too ill to return to work after maternity leave then the normal contractual provisions relating to sickness apply.  If the member of staff is still entitled to maternity pay then she will receive the maternity pay and then move onto sick pay when her maternity pay expires. Although when reviewing her sickness record the University should ignore any sickness absence throughout the entire period of her pregnancy and maternity leave period to ensure there is no unlawful sex discrimination.

The job when returning to work - redundancy

A member of staff returning to work after maternity leave, paid and unpaid, is entitled to have the same job and the same terms and conditions of employment as if she had not been absent. If a redundancy situation has arisen during an individual’s maternity leave, she should have been offered suitable alternative work that was available at the time when the redundancy arose. A member of staff who returns after Additional Maternity Leave is also usually entitled to have the same job and terms and conditions of employment as if she had not been absent. The exception is if a redundancy situation has arisen during the Additional Maternity Leave period or if there is some other reason why it is not reasonably practicable for the University to take the member of staff back in her original role, in which case the member of staff is generally entitled to be offered suitable alternative work if it is available.

A member of staff returning to work after maternity leave, paid and unpaid, is entitled to benefit from general improvements to the rate of pay or other terms and conditions which have been introduced for her grade or type of work whilst she has been away.

Suitable alternative work - redundancy

If a redundancy situation has arisen during a member of staff’s maternity leave which makes it impracticable for the University to take her back in her original job, she must be offered a suitable alternative vacancy where available. The new role offered to the member of staff must be suitable and appropriate for her to do in the circumstances and the capacity and place in which she is employed and her terms and conditions of employment must be no less favourable than if she had continued to be employed in her now redundant post. If the University have a suitable alternative vacancy available but fail to offer it to the member of staff, the redundancy will be regarded as an unfair dismissal. If The University offer the member of staff a suitable alternative vacancy and she unreasonably refuses it, the member of staff may forfeit her right to a redundancy payment.

If there is a reason apart from redundancy which makes it impracticable for the member of staff to be taken back in her original role e.g. Health and Safety, a suitable alternative vacancy must be found which is suitable and appropriate for her to do in the circumstances and the capacity and place in which she is employed and her terms and conditions of employment must be no less favourable than if she had continued to be employed in her previous role.