Maternity Leave Policy

This document provides a comprehensive summary of your maternity entitlements and responsibilities. For more detailed information on all aspects of maternity leave and pay please consult the University’s maternity guidance.

Introduction

The University is committed to equality of opportunity in employment for all its staff and to developing work practices and human resource policies that support work-life balance. Reflecting this commitment the provisions of the University’s maternity policy exceed those laid down in law.

The aim of this policy is to inform staff of their rights and responsibilities both before and after the birth of their child. The policy applies to all female staff employed by the University, whether they work full or part time.

All pregnant employees are entitled to a period of maternity leave regardless of their length of service. The amount of leave and maternity pay for which they will qualify will however differ as described below.

Employees adopting a child should refer to the University’s Adoption Leave Policy.

Maternity Leave

Notification of an intention to take Maternity Leave

An employee must tell the University of the date she wishes to take her maternity leave (using the leave and pay form available from the Directorate of Human Resources) no later than the 15th week before the baby is due or if this is not possible, as soon as is reasonably practicable.

The expected week of childbirth must be confirmed by the MAT B1 maternity certificate from the employee’s doctor or midwife which must be submitted by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth to qualify for maternity pay

Compulsory Maternity Leave

All employees must take a minimum of two weeks leave after the birth of their baby.

Statutory Maternity Leave

All pregnant employees are entitled to 26 weeks statutory ordinary maternity leave (OML) and 26 weeks statutory additional maternity leave (AML) regardless of their length of service.

University Maternity Leave

Oxford Brookes offers all pregnant employees the option of an additional 11 weeks University maternity leave (UML) - 63 weeks in total.

Starting Maternity Leave

An employee can start maternity leave at any time from the 11th week before the baby is due up to the day of the birth or the expected week of childbirth which ever comes first.

An employee may change the date on which she starts her maternity leave provided she gives written notification of the new date at least 28 days before the original start date, or at least 28 days before the new date whichever is earlier, or, if that is not possible because the baby has been born early, as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Entitlement to maternity leave will be calculated from the agreed or actual date maternity leave commences whichever is earlier.

Time off for antenatal appointments

All pregnant employees, regardless of their length of service, are entitled to reasonable paid time off work to keep appointments made on the advice of a doctor, midwife or health visitor for antenatal care. Antenatal care can include not only medical examinations but also, for example, relaxation classes and parent-craft classes.

Except in the case of her first appointment the employee must be prepared to show her line manager an appointment card or similar evidence if asked to do so.

Absence due to childbirth before the intended start of Maternity Leave

If the baby is born before the date the employee has informed the University she wishes to begin her leave or before she has notified a date, the maternity leave period commences automatically on the date of birth even if this is more than 11 weeks before the baby is due.

In order to keep her rights to maternity leave and statutory maternity pay the employee must, as soon as is reasonably practicable, give the University notice in writing of the date of the childbirth and if it has not already been given, evidence of the date the baby was expected (notification of birth form).

Sick Leave before Maternity Leave

If an employee is absent due to a pregnancy related illness from the 4th week before the baby is due her maternity leave starts automatically on the first date of absence. If the illness is unrelated to her pregnancy she can remain on sick leave up until the date of the baby’s birth or until the date she has given as her start date for maternity leave.

An employee whose maternity leave has started due to a pregnancy related illness can not come back to work until 2 weeks after the birth at the earliest.

Contact during maternity leave

Reasonable contact

The University may contact an employee (and vice versa) while they are on maternity leave to discuss issues such as return to work plans or to keep them informed of important developments at the University or within their Faculty/Directorate or Department. The amount and type of contact must not be unreasonable.

Employees should view job vacancies on the University internet. Staff who are not able to access this must let their link HR Team know so that a list of vacancies can be sent in hard form.

Keeping In Touch Days

Employees 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.

KIT days cannot be undertaken during the 2 weeks following the birth of the baby.

KIT days are optional. There is no obligation for either the employee or the University to agree to a KIT day and an employee 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.

Employees will not be paid for KIT days (though existing maternity pay will not be affected). For each KIT day taken the employee will receive time off in lieu (TOIL) matching the number of hours worked, e.g. if 2 hours are worked then 2 hours TOIL will have been earnt and 1 KIT day will have been used.

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

Children may not be bought to the workplace on days that will be considered as KIT days.

Maternity pay

Occupational (University) Maternity Pay

All pregnant employees with 26 weeks or more continuous service at the 15th week before the baby is due are entitled to 13 weeks full pay (including the statutory maternity pay element), 13 weeks at 50% plus the statutory maternity pay flat rate and 13 weeks statutory maternity pay flat rate, provided they are entitled to SMP. No combination of payments will exceed full pay.  Please note previous periods of unpaid leave can potentially affect maternity pay.  Please check your entitlements with human resources.

The 13 weeks at half pay is optional and dependent on an intention to 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 break, for example,  doesn't count towards the 3 months pro rata.

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 pro rata, the whole of the payment will be made on completion of 3 months or pro rata for staff working part time.

Statutory Maternity Pay

Pregnant employees with 26 weeks or more continuous service at the 15th week before the baby is due and whose earnings exceed the national insurance threshold are entitled to 39 weeks statutory maternity pay (SMP). SMP is paid whether or not the employee intends to return to work.   To qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay  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). 

To obtain statutory maternity pay the employee must give the University at least 28 days notice of her intention to take maternity leave and must provide a completed maternity certificate (MAT B1) by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.

Once entitlement to SMP has been established the University must pay the full 39 weeks even if the employee resigns before or during her period of maternity leave.

SMP is paid at the rate of 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks followed by a further 33 weeks at the flat rate.

Maternity Allowance

Employees with less than 26 weeks continuous service at the 15th week before the baby is due or who are not entitled to SMP may be entitled to maternity allowance (MA).

MA is paid directly by the Benefits Agency for up to 39 weeks. To claim MA an employee will need to send form SMP1, available from the Payroll team, to their local social security office with a MA claim form.

Health and Safety

Risk assessments

The University will, once notified of an employee’s pregnancy, undertake a risk assessment to ensure that they are not exposed to any possible health and safety risks.

It is the responsibility of the employee’s line manager to ensure that the employee has completed the risk assessment record for pregnant workers forms and return them to the Occupational Nurse.

Where a risk is identified the University will consult with the employee (and their trade union representative where appropriate) about what is being done to ensure that they are not exposed to risks that could harm them.

University arrangements to manage the risk can include:

  • Temporarily adjusting the employee’s working conditions or hours of work.
  • Offering alternative work if it is not possible to adjust the working conditions to avoid the risk.
  • If no suitable changes can be made to the employees current post and no alternative position is available it may be necessary to suspend the employee on her normal full rate of pay (except when an employee refuses an offer of suitable alternative work) until she can return without exposure to any health and safety risk.

Night Work

An employee who is an expectant or new mother (one who has given notice in writing of being pregnant or has given birth within the last six months or is breastfeeding) has the right to be excused from night work if she has a medical certificate stating that it would affect her health and safety.

In such instances the University must either:

  • Offer the employee a suitable alternative daytime role, or if that is not possible:
  • Suspend the employee from work on full pay (except when an employee refuses an offer of suitable alternative work) for as long as is necessary to protect her health and safety.

Suitable alternative work

Alternative work must have been risk assessed be suitable and must be appropriate for the employee to perform on terms and conditions that are no less favourable than her normal terms and conditions.

If an employee has unreasonably refused an offer of suitable alternative work no remuneration is payable for the period during which the offer applies.

If an employee feels that there is suitable alternative work available which the University has failed to offer before suspending her, or conversely, if they feel that the alternative work offered is not suitable, they are entitled to make a complaint through the grievance procedure.

Still Birth and Miscarriage

In the unfortunate event of a still birth during or after the 25th week of pregnancy all the maternity rights apply in same way as with a live birth.

If an employee has a miscarriage before the start of the 25th week of pregnancy she will not be entitled to statutory maternity leave or pay. Absence from work in this instance would be dealt with under the normal sick pay and/or compassionate leave arrangements.

Terms and conditions of employment

Annual Leave (including bank holiday and concessionary days that fall whilst on maternity leave)

Annual Leave continues to accumulate while an employee is on paid or unpaid maternity leave and can be taken in the normal way.

The University allows employees who are unable to take their annual leave entitlement in the current leave year, to carry forward theie contractual leave entitlement forward into the next leave year.  This is an exception to the standard policy within the university where employees are able to carry forward up to 5 days.

If an employee does not return to work following her maternity period only statutory annual leave will be accrued for the second 26 weeks of the maternity leave period, regardless of their length of service.

Payment for the accrued leave will be made after resignation. This will include, if applicable, an allowance for bank holidays and concessionary days.

Pension arrangements

Local Government Pension Scheme

During the paid part of maternity leave an employee will continue to pay superannuation contributions and to build up reckonable service at the same rate as before maternity leave commenced even though full pay will not be received.

The unpaid part of maternity leave is not counted as pensionable service. An employee will be given the opportunity to repay her pension contributions for the relevant period once she has returned to work.

Teachers Pension Scheme

All paid maternity leave (including SMP) is treated as pensionable.

Contributions during the unpaid part of leave are optional and can be paid using the Current Added Years arrangements at the time of absence or when the employee returns to work using the Past Added Years arrangements.

For further information please see summary of pension arrangements for employees taking maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity/maternity/adoption support leave.

Union membership

When paid maternity leave finishes union contributions will also cease. The employee must contact her union should she wish her contributions to continue.

Parking permit payments while on maternity leave

Please make sure that you cancel the monthly payments for the staff car park before you go on maternity leave.

Sick pay during and at the end of maternity leave

Employees are not entitled to sick leave whilst entitled to receive statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance or whilst 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.

Pay Rises

Employees will, on their return to work, receive any pay rises that have been awarded between the eight weeks before the baby is due and the end of maternity leave, including additional maternity leave.

Redundancy

If, during an employee’s maternity leave, their post is made redundant they will be offered suitable alternative work if it is available.

The new role they are offered must be both suitable and appropriate for them to do in the circumstances and the capacity and place in which they are employed. The terms and conditions of employment must be no less favourable than those of their previous job.

If the University has a suitable alternative vacancy available but fails to offer it to the employee the redundancy will be regarded as unfair dismissal.

If the University offers the employee a suitable alternative vacancy and they unreasonably refuse it the employee may forfeit their right to a redundancy payment.

An employee who feels they have been unfairly selected for redundancy on grounds related to their pregnancy is entitled to make a complaint of unfair dismissal through the grievance procedure.

Returning to work

An employee cannot return to work within 2 weeks of having her baby.

An employee returning to work after ordinary maternity leave is entitled to have the same job and the same terms and conditions of employment as if she had not been absent unless a redundancy situation has arisen during the employee’s absence. See the redundancy section above.

An employee returning to work after additional maternity leave is entitled to have the same job and the same terms and conditions of employment as if she had not been absent unless a redundancy situation has arisen during the employee’s absence (see the redundancy section above) or unless it is not reasonably practicable for her to return to her old job, in which case she will be offered a similar job on terms and conditions which are not less favourable than her original job.

Notification of a return to work

Once an employee has notified the University of the date on which she wishes to start her maternity leave the University will in turn notify the employee within 28 days of the date on which the leave is expected to end. This will normally be 52 weeks (one year) from the start of maternity leave.

An employee who intends to return to work at the end of the statutory 52 weeks leave period does not need to give notice of, or confirm their return to work.

An employee who intends to return to work before the end of the 52 weeks or who intends to take advantage of all or part of the additional 11 weeks University maternity leave must give 8 weeks notice of their intention to return and/or to take the additional leave which need not be in writing.

Employees have the right to change their days of return but must in all circumstances give at least 8 weeks notice before the revised or original date of return whichever is the earlier.

If less than 8 weeks notice is given the University may postpone the employee’s return to work to give the necessary 8 weeks notice or until the end of the maternity leave period, whichever is earlier.

Employees who decide they do not wish to return to work must give at least the notice period set out in their contract of employment.

Extending Maternity Leave

Maternity leave may be extended under certain circumstances which are as follows:

If the employee is ill when she is due to return to work in which case normal contractual provisions will apply

The University may postpone an employee’s return due to an interruption of work or for other reasons for up to 8 weeks as long as they have notified her in advance of the reasons for the postponement and of the new date of return

The University may not postpone the date of return beyond the 52 week period of maternity leave (or 63 week period if they have been notified by the employee of their intention to take University maternity leave)

If the employee is ill or there is an interruption to work the total extension of leave may be more than 8 weeks.

Return to Work Interview

An employee returning from maternity leave will have, on her first day back, a return to work interview with her line manager and/or a representative from the Directorate of Human Resources.

Revised Jan 2013