Maternity Leave


  • This policy outlines the statutory rights and responsibilities of employees who are pregnant or have recently given birth, and sets out the arrangements for pregnancy-related sickness, health and safety, and maternity leave. It does not apply to agency workers or the self-employed.


  • Provided they comply with the notification requirements set out below all employees who give birth are entitled to up to 52 weeks' maternity leave which is divided into:

    • Ordinary maternity leave of 26 weeks (OML).

    • Additional maternity leave of a further 26 weeks immediately following OML (AML).

  • You are also entitled to paid time off during working hours for antenatal appointments. For more information, see 'Antenatal Leave'above.

  • You may also be eligible to Shared Parental Leave and Pay, giving you and your Partner more flexibility in how to share the care of your child in the first year after birth. For more information, see the Shared Parental Leave Policy. 

Notification of pregnancy

  • You should inform us as soon as possible that you are pregnant. This is important as there may be health and safety considerations (see below). In any event before the end of the fifteenth week before the week that you expect to give birth (Qualifying Week), or as soon as reasonably practical afterwards, you must tell us:

    • That you are pregnant;.

    • The week, starting on a Sunday, in which your doctor or midwife expects you to give birth (Expected Week of Childbirth); and

    • The date on which you would like to start your maternity leave (Intended Start Date).

  • You must provide a certificate from a doctor or midwife (usually on a MAT B1 form) confirming your Expected Week of Childbirth, when it is available. 

Pregnancy-related sickness

  • Periods of pregnancy-related sickness absence shall be paid in accordance with your contract of employment in the same manner as any other sickness absence. Any payment of sick pay in excess of this as a result of pregnancy-related sickness shall be entirely at our discretion.

  • Periods of pregnancy-related sickness absence from the start of your pregnancy until the end of your maternity leave will be recorded separately from other sickness records and will be disregarded in any future employment-related decisions.

  • If you are absent for a pregnancy-related reason during the four weeks before your Expected Week of Childbirth, your maternity leave will usually start automatically.

Health & Safety

  • Once you have notified us of your pregnancy, we will carry out a risk assessment, and identify any preventive and protective measures that we consider we need to take. We will take such steps as necessary to avoid any risks identified affecting your health and safety as a new or expectant mother. This may involve:

    • Changing your working conditions or hours of work.

    • Offering you suitable alternative work on terms and conditions that are the same or not substantially less favourable.

    • The date on which you would like to start your maternity leave (Intended Start Date).

Starting Maternity Leave

  • The earliest date you can start maternity leave is 11 weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth (unless your child is born prematurely before that date).

  • You can postpone your Intended Start Date by informing us in writing at least 28 days before the original Intended Start Date, or if that is not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable.

  • You can bring forward the Intended Start Date by informing us at least 28 days before the new start date, or if that is not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable.

  • Your maternity leave will start on the earliest of:

    • Your Intended Start Date (if notified to us in accordance with this policy).

    • The day after any day on which you are absent for a pregnancy-related reason during the four weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth. If this happens you must let us know as soon as possible in writing. Maternity leave will be triggered unless we agree to delay it.

    • The day after you give birth. If you give birth before your maternity leave was due to start, you must let us know the date of the birth in writing as soon as possible.

  • Shortly before your maternity leave starts we will discuss with you the arrangements for covering your work and the opportunities for you to remain in contact, should you wish to do so, during your leave.

  • The law prohibits you from working during the two weeks following childbirth.

Maternity Pay

  • Statutory maternity pay (SMP) is payable for up to 39 weeks. SMP will stop being payable if you return to work (except where you are simply keeping in touch in accordance with paragraph 12.32 to paragraph 12.34). You are entitled to SMP if:

    • You have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks at the end of the Qualifying Week and are still employed by us during that week;

    • Your average weekly earnings during the eight weeks ending with the Qualifying Week (the Relevant Period) are not less than the lower earnings limit set by the government;

    • You provide us with a doctor's or midwife's certificate (MAT B1 form) stating your Expected Week of Childbirth;

    • You give at least 28 days' notice (or, if that is not possible, as much notice as you can) of your intention to take maternity leave; and

    • You are still pregnant 11 weeks before the start of the Expected Week of Childbirth or have already given birth.

  • SMP is calculated as follows:

    • First six weeks: SMP is paid at the Earnings-Related Rate of 90% of your average weekly earnings calculated over the Relevant Period;

    • Your average weekly earnings during the eight weeks ending with the Qualifying Week (the Relevant Period) are not less than the lower earnings limit set by the government;

  • SMP accrues from the day on which you commence your OML and thereafter at the end of each complete week of absence. SMP payments shall be made on the next normal payroll date and income tax, National Insurance and pension contributions shall be deducted as appropriate.

  • You will still be eligible for SMP if you leave employment for any reason after the start of the Qualifying Week (for example, if you resign or are made redundant). In such cases, if your maternity leave has not already begun, SMP shall start to accrue in whichever is the later of:

    • The week following the week in which employment ends; or

    • The eleventh week before the Expected Week of Childbirth.

  • If you become eligible for a pay rise before the end of your maternity leave, you will be treated for SMP purposes as if the pay rise had applied throughout the Relevant Period. This means that your SMP will be recalculated and increased retrospectively, or that you may qualify for SMP if you did not previously qualify. We shall pay you a lump sum to make up the difference between any SMP already paid and the amount payable by virtue of the pay rise. Any future SMP payments at the Earnings-Related Rate (if any) will also be increased as necessary.

OML / SML Terms & Conditions
  • All the terms and conditions of your employment remain in force during OML and AML, except for the terms relating to pay. In particular:

    • Benefits in kind if applicable shall continue;

    • Annual leave entitlement under your contract shall continue to accrue.

    • Pension benefits shall continue.

  • Annual Leave

    • During OML and AML, holiday entitlement will accrue at the rate provided under your contract.

    • Our holiday year runs from 1 January to 31 December. In many cases a period of maternity leave will last beyond the end of the holiday year. Any holiday entitlement for the year that cannot reasonably be taken before starting your maternity leave can be carried over to the next holiday year and must be taken immediately before returning to work unless your manager agrees otherwise.

    • You should discuss your holiday plans with your manager in good time before starting your maternity leave. All holiday dates are subject to approval by your manager.

  • Pensions

    • During OML we shall continue to make any employer contributions that we usually make into a money-purchase pension scheme, based on what your earnings would have been if you had not been on maternity leave provided that you continue to make contributions based on the maternity pay you are receiving. If you wish to increase your contributions to make up any shortfall from those based on your normal salary then please contact HR immediately.

    • During unpaid AML we shall not make any payments into a money purchase scheme and the time shall not count as pensionable service under the final salary scheme. You do not have to make any contributions but you may do so if you wish, or you may make up for missed contributions at a later date.

  • Redundancies during maternity leave

    • In the event that your post is affected by a redundancy situation occurring during your maternity leave, we shall write to inform you of any proposals and shall invite you to a meeting before any final decision is reached as to your continued employment.

  • Keeping in touch

    • We may make reasonable contact with you from time to time during your maternity leave.

    • You may work (including attending training) for up to ten days during maternity leave without bringing your maternity leave or SMP to an end. This is not compulsory and must be discussed and agreed with your line manager. In any case, you must not work in the two weeks following birth.

    • You will be paid at your normal basic rate of pay for time spent working on a Keeping in Touch Day and this will be inclusive of any maternity pay entitlement. Alternatively, you may agree with your line manager to receive the equivalent paid time off in lieu.

  • Expected Return Date

    • Once you have notified us in writing of your Intended Start Date, we shall send you a letter within 28 days to inform you of your Expected Return Date. If your start date has been changed (either because you gave us notice to change it, or because maternity leave started early due to illness or premature childbirth) we shall write to you within 28 days of the start of maternity leave with a revised Expected Return Date.

    • Shortly before you are due to return to work, we may invite you to have a discussion (whether in person or by telephone) about the arrangements for your return. This may cover: Updating you on any changes that have occured during your absence, any trainingneeds you might have and any changes to working arrangements.

  • Changing your return date

    • If you wish to return to work earlier than the Expected Return Date, you must give us eight weeks' prior notice. It is helpful if you give this notice in writing. If not enough notice is given, we may postpone your return date until eight weeks after you gave notice, or to the Expected Return Date if sooner.

    • If you wish to return later than the Expected Return Date, you should either:

      • Request unpaid parental leave in accordance with our Parental Leave Policy, giving us as much notice as possible but not less than [21 days]; or

      • Request paid annual leave in accordance with your contract, which will be at our discretion.

  • Deciding not to return

    • If you do not intend to return to work, or are unsure, it is helpful if you discuss this with us as early as possible. If you decide not to return you should give notice of resignation in accordance with your contract. The amount of maternity leave left to run when you give notice must be at least equal to your contractual notice period, otherwise we may require you to return to work for the remainder of the notice period.

    • Once you have given notice that you will not be returning to work, you cannot change your mind without our agreement.

    • This does not affect your right to receive SMP.

  • Your rights when you return

    • You are normally entitled to return to work in the same position as you held before commencing leave. Your terms of employment shall be the same as they would have been had you not been absent.

    • Once you have given notice that you will not be returning to work, you cannot change your mind without our agreement.

  • Flexible working

    • We will deal with any requests by employees to change their working patterns (such as working part-time) after maternity leave on a case-by-case basis. There is no absolute right to insist on working part-time, but you do have a statutory right to request flexible working and we will try to accommodate your wishes unless there is a justifiable reason for refusal, bearing in mind the needs of our business. It is helpful if requests are made as early as possible. The procedure for dealing with such requests is set out in our Flexible Working Policy.