Maternity pay

There are three main maternity benefits:

Occupational Maternity Pay is paid to employees who have 26 weeks continuous service by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth and who qualify for statutory maternity pay.  To qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay and Occupational Maternity the member of staff must have been earning on average not less than the lower earnings limit for national insurance purposes during week 17 to week 25 of pregnancy (8 weeks prior to the end of the qualifying week, which is the 15th week before the baby is due).  Qualifiying members of staff are entitled to:

  1. 13 weeks of leave at  full pay,
  2. 13 weeks of leave at half pay with statutory maternity pay in addition,
  3. 13 weeks of leave at lower rate SMP

With regards to the half pay element with SMP in addition, where this is more than normal pay would be, then the normal pay is paid. The 13 weeks at half pay is optional and dependent on an intention to physically return to work for at least 3 months pro rata after the period of maternity leave any time off on annual leave or a career, for example, break doesn't count towards the 3 months pro rata.  An intention to return requires that a contract of employment is in place, prior to the employee starting their maternity leave, which enables them to return to work for at least the 3 month pro rata period.  Any time on annual leave or a career break, for example, doesn't count towards the 3 months pro rata of physically returning to work. If an employee elects to receive the enhanced pay and subsequently decides not to return to work, she will be asked to repay it. If an employee elects not to receive the enhanced pay during her leave, and then decides to return to work for at least 3 months, the whole of the payment will be made on completion of 3 months or pro rata for staff working part time on their return.

One week of Occupational Maternity Pay is calculated by dividing the annual salary by 52.143. The Payroll section will provide individual Maternity Pay Forecasts to enable employees to plan for their leave. See maternity pay forecast to request a forecast.

Statutory maternity pay is generally paid to employees who qualify for Occupational Maternity pay, but is paid whether or not the employee intends to return to work. Higher rate SMP is calculated at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings and is payable for the first six weeks of maternity leave. This payment is included in the 13 weeks full pay Occupational Maternity pay. Lower rate SMP is paid for a further 26 weeks, and is in addition to any Occupational Maternity pay that may be payable.

Statutory maternity pay is only payable whilst an employee is absent from work. If an employee returns to work at any time during the maternity pay period, she will lose her entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay for the whole week, even if she only works a few hours (with the exception of keeping in touch (KIT) days, please see keeping in touch days.

N.B. – Staff who do not qualify for statutory maternity pay will not qualify for occupational maternity pay.

There are several reasons why an employee may be excluded from receiving statutory maternity pay:

  • If she has not been employed for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth
  • If her average earnings are lower than the National Insurance threshold
  • If she has not given the University at least 28 days notice of maternity leave
  • If she has not given the University a Maternity Certificate MAT B1
  • If she is not in the European Economic Area at the beginning of the maternity pay period
  • If she is in legal custody

Maternity allowance is paid directly by the Benefits Agency to qualifying women who are not entitled to statutory maternity pay for any of the reasons stated above. To enable an employee to claim maternity allowance, the University must complete a form SMP1, which she must submit to the Benefits Agency along with her Mat B1.

Women who have worked and paid National Insurance contributions in 26 out of the 66 weeks ending the week before the expected week of childbirth are entitled to claim a maximum of 39 weeks maternity allowance if:

  • They are employed but do not qualify for SMP, or
  • They have recently been employed, or
  • They are self-employed.

A member of staff may continue to work right up until the date that her baby is born and still retain her full 39-week entitlement to Maternity Allowance. Maternity Allowance is only payable whilst a woman is absent from work.

Keeping in touch days

Staff may, by agreement with their line manager, undertake up to 10 keeping In touch (KIT) days during their maternity leave. KIT days can be used to undertake work, training or any other work related activity. Children must not be brought to the work place on days that will be considered as KIT days.

As stated above, KIT days cannot be undertaken during the 2 weeks following the birth of the baby.

KIT days are optional and there is no obligation for either the member of staff or the University to agree to a KIT day and the member of staff has the right to turn down a KIT day without suffering any detriment.

A KIT day is any day where work (or training) is undertaken up to normal contractual hours, e.g. if only 1 hour of work is undertaken this would count as 1 KIT day.

Staff will not be paid for KIT days (though existing maternity pay will not be affected).  For each KIT day taken the member of staff will receive time off in lieu (TOIL).  TOIL will be matched for the number of hours worked, if 2 hours are worked then 2 hours of TOIL will be earnt.   The maximum amount of TOIL that can be earnt is 74 hours which would be built up over a maximum of 10 KIT days, this is the equivalent of 37 hours being worked over a five day period for a full time member of staff.  Full time staff and part time staff will be able to work up to 74 hours over 10 days if agreed in advance with their line manager.

Once the KIT days have been used the employee will lose a week’s maternity pay for any week in which they work for the University.

Line managers and staff are responsible for recording keeping In touch days on the keeping in touch form. Under no circumstance will KIT days be paid.


updated Jan 2013