Maternity policy

  • 1.1 Introduction

    This Maternity Policy covers all employees who are expecting a baby.

    Staff may also wish to refer to the following related policies where appropriate:

    Adoption/Surrogacy; Shared Parental Leave; Paternity Leave; and/or Parental Leave.

    See also the Maternity Key Dates for Notification and Action checklist.

    The University is committed to the advancement of equality, diversity and inclusion for all of its staff and to developing working practices and HR policies that support work-life balance. Reflecting this commitment the provisions of the University’s maternity policy exceed the statutory requirements.

    1.2 Aims

    The aims of the policy are to explain:

    • The provisions for maternity leave and pay

    • Who is eligible

    • How to apply

    1.3 Glossary of Terms

    EWC Expected week of Confinement/childbirth – the week starting on a Sunday in which the baby is due.
    MATB1 Medical certificate confirming EWC issued by a GP/Midwife after the 20th week of pregnancy.
    KIT days Keeping in Touch days.
    SPLIT Shared Parental Leave Keeping in Touch days.
    SMP Statutory Maternity Pay – the minimum payable to those who qualify as set out in legislation.
    Qualifying week The 15th week before the EWC.
    Maternity Allowance A payment made by the government if you are not entitled to receive SMP, but meet other eligibility criteria.
    Mother The individual who gives birth to a child.
    Partner The term 'partner' refers to the child's biological father or the mother's partner, eg. spouse, civil or long-term partner and inclusive of all gender identities.

    1.4 Maternity Leave

    • All pregnant employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave regardless of their length of service. The first 26 weeks is known as ordinary maternity leave and the second 26 weeks as additional maternity leave. In addition to this statutory leave, Brookes offers all pregnant employees an optional 11 weeks’ additional maternity leave (AML) - 63 weeks in total.

    • It is for the individual employee to decide how much maternity leave they wish to take. However, the law requires that they must take a minimum of two weeks’ leave immediately following the birth of the child.

    • The earliest that maternity leave can start is 29 weeks, i.e. 11 weeks before the Expected Week of Confinement (EWC).

    • An employee can change the start date of their maternity leave, providing they give a minimum of 28 days’ notice before the agreed original start date.

    • If an employee has a pregnancy-related absence from work during the four weeks before the EWC, maternity leave will commence automatically.

    • If the baby is born before the intended start of maternity leave, maternity leave and pay will commence the day after the birth. The mother should complete the notification of birth form and send/email it to HR as soon as possible. A copy of the birth certificate or document signed by a doctor or midwife confirming the actual date of birth should also be sent to HR as soon as reasonably practicable.

    • An employee may choose to share their maternity leave with a partner. Please refer to the Shared Parental Leave policy for further information and guidance on the procedure.

    1.5 Brookes’ Occupational Maternity Pay

    To qualify for Brookes’ full Occupational Maternity pay an employee must:

    • have 26 weeks’ continuous service with the University at the beginning of the 15th week before the EWC;

    • have gross average earnings at least equal to the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) in the last eight weeks up to and including the last payday before the end of their qualifying week (i.e. 15th week before EWC). (Go to https://www.gov.uk/ to search for current LEL rate). Note: periods of unpaid leave prior to maternity leave may affect maternity pay. Further information can be obtained from HR or Payroll.

    • submit the MATB1 certificate as proof of pregnancy – usually issued by the doctor/midwife 20 weeks before the EWC; and

    • intend to return to work for a minimum of 13 weeks after maternity leave.

    If the employee meets all the above criteria, maternity pay will be as follows:

    • 13 weeks at full pay (including SMP)

    • 13 weeks at 50% salary plus SMP flat rate*

    • 13 weeks at SMP flat rate*

    If the employee does not intend to return to work for a minimum of 13 weeks following maternity leave, they will be entitled to a reduced level of Occupational Maternity Pay as follows:

    • 13 weeks at full pay (including SMP element)

    • 26 weeks at SMP flat rate*

    *Statutory Maternity Pay ( SMP ) for employees is: 90% of their gross average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks and the current SMP rate or 90% of their gross average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks (flat rate).

    An employee who receives full Occupational Maternity Pay and does not return to work for the qualifying 13-week period, will be asked to repay the difference between the full rate and the reduced level. This may be offset against any outstanding annual leave.

    To avoid this situation, an employee who does not intend to return to work (or who thinks that this is a possibility), or who is on a fixed-term contract that expires during the period of maternity leave, can opt to receive the reduced level of maternity pay.

    An employee who opts for the lower rate, or whose fixed-term contract is extended, and subsequently returns to work for 13 weeks, and meets all the qualifying criteria for full Occupational Maternity Pay will be paid the difference on completion of 13 weeks back at work.

    An employee should complete the Maternity Pay Forecast form to obtain a pay forecast from Payroll.

    Notes

    • If a request to change working hours (FTE) is agreed prior to returning to work following maternity leave, the employee will be able to complete the qualifying 13 weeks at the newly agreed FTE/hours of work. For example, if they were 1.0 FTE prior to taking maternity leave, they will not be expected to work 1.0FTE for the 13 week period, before reducing to their new agreed FTE.

    • The 13 weeks at half pay is optional and dependent on an intention to return to work for at least 13 weeks pro-rata after the period of maternity leave. Any time off on annual leave or a career break, for example, doesn't count towards the qualifying 13 weeks pro rata period.
    • In the unusual circumstances that the baby is born prematurely before the qualifying week (15th week before the EWC), the employee will be deemed as satisfying the continuous employment rule, if they would have been continuously employed but for early childbirth. Maternity pay will be paid from the day following the birth of the baby.
    • If an employee has a miscarriage before the start of the 24th week of pregnancy they will not be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay or maternity leave. Absence from work in this instance would be dealt with under the normal sick pay and/or compassionate leave arrangements.

    • In the sad event of a stillbirth after the start of the 24th week of pregnancy, or if the baby dies after being born, all maternity rights apply in the same way as with a live birth.

    • In the event of a miscarriage or stillbirth, support may be provided by Occupational Health including the option for counselling.

    • Maternity pay will be paid monthly through payroll as per normal salary payments and will be subject to any tax and National Insurance contributions.

    1.6 Maternity Allowance

    If a pregnant employee is not eligible for Brookes’ Occupational Maternity Pay/ Statutory Maternity Pay, they may be entitled to Maternity Allowance. Payroll will issue the employee with an SMP1 form which the employee should submit with their completed MA1 claim form. The employee may wish to contact HR or payroll for further help and advice.

    2.1 Notification of Pregnancy

    Prior to informing their line manager, an employee may contact HR in confidence to raise any questions or concerns they may have.

    See also the Maternity Key Dates for Notification and Action checklist.

    The employee should inform their line manager that they are expecting a baby as soon as possible, especially if the nature of their work or working environment may be detrimental to the health of their baby (see 2.2 Health and Safety).

    To be eligible for Brookes’ Occupational Maternity Leave and pay, the employee must give Brookes 28 days’ notice of their intention to start maternity leave and must submit their MATB1 issued by their GP/midwife to Human Resources, together with a completed Maternity Leave and Pay Form by the 15th week before their EWC.

    2.2 Health & Safety

    It is the line manager’s responsibility to ensure that pregnant employees complete the risk assessment form for pregnant employees and return it to Occupational Health. Whilst this is important and essential for all pregnant employees, it is particularly critical where staff are working in a higher risk environment such as a laboratory.

    Pregnant Worker Risk Assessment Form (to identify any risks during pregnancy)

    Return to Work Risk Assessment following pregnancy (to identify any risks on return to work following birth)

    Where a risk is identified the Occupational Health Adviser will consult the individual and their manager (and union representative, where appropriate) to ensure that steps are taken to make sure the employee is not exposed to risks that could harm them or their baby, e.g. by making suitable adjustments, or providing suitable alternative work where necessary. If no suitable alternative can be found, it may be necessary for the individual to take leave, on their normal full pay (unless an employee unreasonably refuses an offer of suitable alternative work), until they can return to their normal role without any health and safety risk.

    The location of rest rooms across the University can be found here.

    2.3 Maternity Meeting

    On notification of the employee's pregnancy, HR will set up a meeting with the employee and their line manager, to help plan their maternity leave and to answer any questions or concerns they may have. Following the meeting, HR will write to employee to confirm maternity leave and key dates, etc.

    2.4 Research grant-funded staff

    Employees who are grant-funded should contact both the grant-holder (i.e. the Principal Investigator (PI) on the grant) and their link HR Manager at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss whether any additional conditions may apply under the grant terms for the payment of salary during maternity leave. For instance, some funding bodies have a policy to extend grants to cover maternity periods. The PI should contact the Post-award Processes Officer in RBDO who will check the funding rules on maternity leave.

    2.5 Time off for Antenatal Care

    Pregnant employees are entitled to reasonable paid time off for antenatal care, including medical appointments, relaxation and parent-craft classes. Fathers/partners of pregnant employees can take unpaid leave to attend up to two antenatal appointments. Alternatively, fathers/partners may choose to take annual leave and/or arrange with their line manager to take TOIL to attend antenatal appointments. The line manager may request to see an appointment card or similar document confirming such appointments.

    2.6 Sickness during pregnancy

    Prior to taking maternity leave, any periods of sickness will be treated in the normal way. However, if the pregnant employee is unwell owing to a pregnancy-related condition during the last four weeks before their EWC, maternity leave will be commenced immediately, and the employee will be unable to return to work again prior to the birth.

    2.7 Change of hours during pregnancy

    If the employee wishes to reduce their hours of work for medical reasons prior to the birth of their baby, they should contact Occupational Health or provide a Doctor’s certificate for reduced working hours. In these cases, the employee may be able to retain their original hours of work for the calculation of maternity pay.

    3.1 Contact during Maternity Leave

    The University may contact an employee (and vice versa) while they are on maternity leave, e.g. to advise of important changes in the Faculty/Directorate or issues relating to return to work plans. However, the amount and type of contact must not be unreasonable. Line managers/departments are encouraged to discuss arrangements for keeping in touch with the individual employee before maternity leave starts. This might cover frequency, reason and mode of contact. The individual may choose to have regular contact or may prefer to keep contact to the minimum. As a minimum line managers need to communicate any important changes at the workplace that might affect the employee on their return.

    3.2 Keeping in Touch Days (KIT)

    Employees may, with the agreement of their line manager, undertake up to 10 KIT days during their maternity leave to undertake work, training or other work-related activity. KIT days are optional and an employee has the right to turn down a KIT day without detriment. For each KIT day undertaken the employee may elect to be paid or to take time off in lieu (TOIL) for the number of hours worked, e.g. 2 hours worked = 2 hours pay or TOIL (and 1 KIT day will be used). A KIT day can be up to normal contractual hours. Payment for KIT days worked can be claimed using the overtime claim form with KIT hours clearly denoted on the form. TOIL from KIT days should be recorded on the individual’s annual leave card.

    Children may not be brought to the workplace on KIT days.

    3.3 Benefits whilst on maternity leave

    The employee is entitled to receive all contractual benefits during the whole period of maternity leave with the exception of remuneration.

    3.4 Annual Leave/Bank Holidays and Concessionary Days

    Annual leave continues to accrue while an employee is on paid or unpaid maternity leave at the same rate of hours as that worked before the commencement of maternity leave and can be taken in the normal way on return to work or as paid leave before returning. Bank Holiday and concessionary days accrue on the basis of the days that actually fall whilst on maternity leave.

    Employees who are unable to take their annual leave in the current year, may carry forward their contractual leave entitlement to the following leave year. Note: leave must be used during the first year after returning from maternity leave, as the normal rules for carry forward (i.e. 5 days pro rata) will apply the subsequent year.

    Annual leave may be used to shorten the period of unpaid maternity leave. Once annual leave is commenced, however, the employee is deemed to have returned to work and cannot return to maternity leave.

    If an employee does not return to work following maternity leave, annual leave will be accrued for the first 26 weeks of the maternity leave period and statutory annual leave for the second 26 weeks’ of the maternity leave period, regardless of the length of service. In this case, accrued leave will be paid once resignation is confirmed.

    Semester only-working

    Semester only staff will accrue annual leave during periods of maternity leave. As this entitlement is normally included with their pay, staff are unable to receive this entitlement during periods of half pay, statutory maternity pay and no pay. Upon return to work, or the submission of their resignation, payroll will make a calculation to ensure that any leave accrued will be backdated for the period of maternity leave. This will then be paid as an additional payment with the next salary following maternity leave. In cases where an employee resigns, a calculation will be made based on the number of weeks worked and leave accrued during maternity. In this instance, there may be occasions where more leave has been taken than is owed, in which case a deduction of salary will be made. For more information please speak to the employee services team

    Variable Hours

    Anyone on a Variable Hours contract should contact the Payroll Team who will be able to calculate the annual leave they will accrue whilst on maternity leave which can be taken as agreed with their line manager as detailed in Section 3.4 above.

    Associate Lecturers

    Associate lecturers’ rate of pay includes an allocation for annual leave rolled into the total amount paid, this means that Associate Lecturers will be paid in their maternity pay for the annual leave that they accrue during the paid part of their maternity leave so will not accrue any additional annual leave to take at any point, however if the Associate Lecturer takes any UNPAID maternity leave then they will accrue annual leave only for the UNPAID part. Associate Lecturers should contact the Payroll Team who will be able to calculate the annual leave they will accrue whilst on UNPAID maternity leave which can be taken as agreed with their line manager as detailed in Section 3.4 above.

    3.5 Pension arrangements

    For information regarding pension contributions during maternity leave, please refer to your pension scheme at the links provided below:

    Local Government Pension Scheme

    Teachers Pension Scheme - Family Leave

    Universities Superannuation Scheme - Life events (see ‘Becoming a Parent’)

    3.6 Sick pay during and at the end of maternity leave

    Employees are not entitled to sick leave while entitled to receive statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, or while on unpaid leave.

    If the employee is ill and unable to return to work at the end of the leave period, the normal arrangements for leave due to sickness will come into force.

    3.7 Pay Rises

    Any salary increment and / or cost of living increase will be applied on the day it falls due and may result in an increase in maternity or adoption/surrogacy pay if the implementation date falls within the payment period.

    3.8 Childcare vouchers

    The University's Childcare voucher scheme is now closed to new entrants as the government has introduced a new tax-free childcare scheme, Current scheme members may continue to use childcare vouchers for as long as the University continues to operate the scheme or may choose to join the new government scheme. Current members will benefit from continued membership during any periods of maternity leave.

    3.9 Fixed-Term Contracts

    Once payment of any statutory maternity pay entitlement has commenced, the University will pay employees on a fixed-term contract all of their statutory maternity entitlement even if their employment ends during the period of maternity leave. In such cases, any outstanding payment at the time that the contract ends, will be paid to the employee as a lump sum.

    3.10 Redundancy

    Employees returning to work at the end of ordinary maternity leave, (the first six months of maternity leave), have the right to return to their original job on the same terms and conditions.

    If the employee is returning to work following additional maternity leave (any part of the second six months’ of maternity leave), they will normally return to their original job. However, if that is not possible then a similar job on the same terms and conditions will be offered.

    If a redundancy situation has arisen whilst the employee has been on maternity leave, the University will seek to redeploy the employee to a post which carries a similar level of responsibility and remuneration. Where this is not possible, and the employee is redeployed to a post at a lower grade, they will have their salary maintained for a period of up to two years, while further attempts are made to identify a suitable post at the original grade. If there is no suitable alternative work, the employee be may be entitled to redundancy pay.

    See the University’s Redeployment and Handling Redundancies policy for further information.

    3.11 Union membership

    When paid maternity leave finishes union contributions will cease. The employee must contact their union should they wish contributions to continue during any period of unpaid leave.

    3.12 Option for Shared Parental Leave (SPL)

    An employee may choose to curtail their maternity pay and leave and opt into Shared Parental Leave. For SPL to start, the mother must do one of the following:

    • end their maternity leave by returning to work early and giving 8 weeks’ notice of this (“a curtailment notice”); or

    • give the University a “binding notice” of the date when they will end their maternity or adoption leave; or

    • end Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance.

    3.13 Shortening or Extending Maternity Leave

    If the employee wishes to change their return to work date to return earlier than a date previously specified, they must give the University 8 weeks’ notice. If an employee gives less than 8 weeks' notice, their maternity leave may be extended for up to 8 weeks' after the date of giving notice of return, to allow the University to make any necessary arrangements. This extension must not extend beyond the 52-week period of maternity leave (or 63 week period if the employee has given notice of their intention to take Additional Maternity Leave).

    Maternity leave may be extended under certain circumstances, as follows:

    • the employee wishes to postpone their return date, and the University agrees, whether paid or unpaid;

    • there is an interruption of work or other reason, for up to 8 weeks, as long as the University notifies the employee in advance of the reasons for the postponement and of the new date of return; and the new date of return does not extend beyond the 52-week period of maternity leave (or 63 week period if the employee has given notice of their intention to take University Maternity Leave).

      Note: if the employee is ill when they are due to return to work from maternity /adoption/surrogacy leave, normal contractual provisions for sick leave will apply.

    3.14 Notification of a return to work

    If an employee intends to return to work at the end of their full 52-week maternity leave period they are not required to give notice of their return. It is helpful, however, if employees could confirm to their line manager that they intend to return as planned so arrangements for return to work can be made.

    HR will normally write to employees 8 weeks prior to their indicated return to work date to confirm their return to work arrangements.

    3.15 Changing hours of work following maternity leave

    Some employees returning to work following maternity leave may wish to consider changing their hours of work or working patterns. All employees have a right to make a Flexible Working Request.

    It is recommended that any change in working hours or patterns be submitted prior to the commencement of maternity leave. Any changes must be requested at least two months before the proposed change is to come into effect.

    Any such request should be made on the Change in working hours or patterns of work request form. Requests may only be refused where there are clear and genuine business grounds to justify the refusal.

    Where reduced working hours (FTE) are agreed, an employee may wish to consider using some of their annual leave to retain their previous fraction for a period of time. This may help them to mitigate the financial impact for a period of time.

    Eg. It has been agreed that an employee can reduce their FTE from 1.0 to 0.5 on their return to work and they have 20 days’ outstanding annual leave. They therefore return to work on 1st September working 0.5 fte. However, for the period 1st September to end of October they are paid 1.0fte, as they use their leave entitlement. From 1st November, they will work 0.5 fte and are paid 0.5fte.

    Another alternative is to use annual leave within the period of unpaid leave and just prior to returning to work. (Once annual leave is started employees are unable to return to maternity leave.)

    An employee cannot return to work within two weeks of having their baby.

    4.1 Return to work Interview

    In addition to keeping the returning employee up-to-date on news regarding any changes affecting their role, the line manager will meet with the employee on their return to work. They should discuss workload, objectives, etc., as appropriate to their role, and in light of any change in FTE that may been requested and agreed on their return. Managers and employees should refer to the Return to work Induction Checklist.

    4.2 Health and Safety

    The original health and safety risk assessment should be reviewed to ensure that any risks and remedial actions are taken as and where appropriate.

    4.3 Breast Feeding

    If an employee wishes to breastfeed their baby, they need to let the University know prior to their return to work so that suitable arrangements can be made. If this is the case, a third party needs to bring the child to the mother to be fed. Alternatively, the University will make suitable accommodation available for those who wish to express milk during working hours. This time is given in addition to lunch breaks.

    All Maternity and Family Policy related forms can be found in A-Z of forms under Family Policies here.

    Last Review Date: September 2016