1. Policy statement

The University is committed to supporting best practice in relation to maternity recognising the value of achieving a gender-diverse workforce and retaining and promoting female talent.

In support of this, the University provides maternity benefits including maternity pay that are above the statutory minimum.

This policy and procedure sets out the entitlements and benefits for pregnant employees and new mothers.

Reference is made to the mother as a female/she. In the case of adoption, where an adoptive parent may be entitled to maternity leave it is recognised that the parent could be male or female.

2. Scope

This policy and procedure applies to all pregnant employees who have a contract of employment with the University of York.

3. Aims

The policy aims to promote a consistent and supportive approach to maternity across the University and to increase awareness about the provisions available for pregnant employees and to ensure the protection of the health and well-being of the mother and her child/unborn child, and compliance with legislative requirements.

It sets out the contractual and statutory maternity rights to which all pregnant employees are entitled, both before and after the birth of a child.

Queries regarding the application of this policy should be directed to the relevant HR Advisor.

4. Principles

The University of York has an Occupational Maternity scheme which is more beneficial than - and incorporates - all relevant legislation and statutory entitlements to maternity leave and pay.

Maternity Leave

All pregnant employees, regardless of length of service or hours worked:

  • are entitled to up to 52 weeks' maternity leave. This comprises 26 weeks' ordinary maternity leave (OML) immediately followed by up to a further 26 weeks' additional maternity leave (AML)
  • must take a minimum of two weeks maternity leave immediately after the birth of their child

Maternity Pay

  • The type of maternity pay that a pregnant employee will get depends on how long she has been working for the University; this is detailed in Sections 2.2 and 2.3 of the Procedure.

5. Contractual and other benefits

Apart from pay, the employee will continue to receive any contractual benefits which she would normally receive if she were at work, throughout her maternity leave period.

    Antenatal care

    An employee will be given paid time off to attend antenatal appointments. Antenatal appointments should where possible be arranged outside core hours. Evidence of appointments such as an appointment card or medical certificate may be requested.

    In addition, the father or partner of the pregnant woman may take time off work to attend 2 antenatal appointments with the expectant mother; this is unpaid.

    Parental Leave

    This applies to employees who have completed one year's service with the University and allows parents to take unpaid Parental Leave to care for their child when it is born or placed for adoption. If Parental Leave is taken immediately after the child is born, or is placed for adoption, or where it is taken immediately following the employee's maternity leave, it may be taken in a block of up to 18 weeks, by agreement with the Head of Department, subject to the required notice being given by the employee. For further details see the Parental Leave Policy

    Sharing maternity leave with a partner

    Where an employee decides to return to work prior to completing her full entitlement to 52 weeks maternity leave, she may share the untaken balance of leave and pay as Shared Parental Leave and Pay. For further guidance see the University's Shared Parental Leave Policy

    Continuity of service

    Where an employee returns to work following maternity leave (paid or unpaid) the period of absence due to maternity leave will not affect her recognised continuous service for employment rights and service related benefits. Where relevant, the employee will be entitled to receive an increment on her salary in accordance with her normal incremental date.


    If an employee is a member of the USS or University of York Pension scheme, the University will continue to make its usual contribution for the whole of the time she is receiving Occupational or Statutory Maternity Pay. During any unpaid maternity leave her active pension scheme membership will be "suspended". This means that the period will not count as pensionable service, but that benefits will be paid in the event of her death or ill-health retirement during maternity leave, on the basis of the service and salary which counted at the end of her paid maternity leave.

    Further information about pension arrangements whilst on maternity leave is available from the Pensions Office at: Pensions

    Annual leave

    1. An employee will continue to accrue annual leave during her maternity leave. Staff on maternity leave who, as a result, are unable to take all of their annual leave entitlement in a particular year are allowed to carry forward any untaken annual leave to the following leave year. Prior to starting her maternity leave it is recommended that the employee discuss arrangements for using annual leave with her manager.
    2. Staff who are on maternity leave on a Public/Statutory or Customary holiday are allowed to take the day(s) of holiday at a mutually convenient time (i.e. agreed with their line manager).
    3. Annual leave cannot be taken during a period of maternity leave. It must be taken either prior to, or following maternity leave. Any annual leave taken following the birth of the baby will be deemed to be a 'return to work' for the purposes of maternity regulations. The employee will therefore be expected to resume her normal duties following the period of leave. If Payroll has not already been informed of leave arrangements via the ML3 (Maternity return to work), then the manager must do so in writing. Notification should be in writing and confirm the date maternity leave ended and the annual leave dates.

    Leave in Special Circumstances

    An employee may also find it useful to familiarise herself with the University's approach to requests for leave in Special Circumstances.

    Equality and Diversity - including breastfeeding facilities

    An employee may also like to consult the Equality and Diversity maternity pages on the web for useful information relating to relevant issues including breastfeeding facilities at: http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/eo/GuidanceandGoodPractice/Facilitiesoncampus.htm

    Rewards Extra

    1. SMP is based on an employee's earnings in the 8 week period up to and including the 15th week before her baby is due (the 'qualifying period'). It is calculated using the post-sacrifice salary which means that SMP will be reduced for individuals receiving benefits as part of a salary exchange scheme at that point.
    2. An employee should review whether she wishes to continue to receive benefits as part of a salary exchange scheme. Where an employee decides to leave the scheme she will need to complete a lifestyle change form.

      In the case of the Childcare Voucher Scheme she should contact HR Services in the first 16 weeks of her pregnancy if she is thinking of leaving. Changes must be confirmed at least 6 weeks before the change is to take effect.

      For more information, visit the Childcare Voucher provider's website at: http://www.childcarevouchers.co.uk/Pages/Default.aspx and the Department of Work and Pensions' page on SMP eligibility at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/employers/sml-salary-sacrifice.pdf

    Health and safety

    1. The University is committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of all employees which includes pregnant and breastfeeding employees as covered by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
    2. As part of the University's duty of care to pregnant and breastfeeding employees, a risk assessment will be carried out when an employee advises her manager of her pregnancy. A second risk assessment must be carried out after maternity leave, when the employee returns to work.
    3. The manager is responsible for assessing any risks and taking appropriate action to resolve any problems. Where a potential risk has been identified, temporary adjustments should be made to the work/working conditions and/or working hours. Managers may want to seek advice from their HR Advisor in these instances.
    4. Where the risk cannot be reduced to an acceptable level the employee will be offered suitable redeployment on her existing terms and conditions of employment. If there is no suitable redeployment, she will be suspended on full pay for as long as the risk remains. The decision to suspend on these grounds will be taken by a Senior Manager (Member of the University Executive Board, Dean or Head of Department) acting on advice from the Health and Safety Department and the HR Advisor.
    5. Suspension on maternity grounds will not affect the employee's statutory or contractual employment or her maternity rights. The employee is entitled to her normal salary and contractual benefits during any period of suspension, unless she refuses a reasonable offer of suitable alternative employment.
    6. Redeployment or suspension will follow in the same way if there is a statutory requirement placed on the University by an employment medical advisor or doctor appointed under regulations on ionising radiations, Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) etc.
    7. If an employee produces a medical certificate stating that, on health and safety grounds, she should not continue to work her previous standard hours, for example nights; the University will either transfer her to suitable alternative day work or suspend her on maternity grounds, on full pay.
    8. If either the employee or her manager has concerns arising from the risk assessment or any other health and safety related matter, they may contact the Director of Health and Safety (Ext 4251) or the Occupational Health Advisor (Ext 4608) for advice and guidance.

    Sickness absence

    1. All sickness absence prior to starting maternity leave will be administered under the normal sickness absence procedure. The employee will receive contractual or Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), as appropriate.
    2. In cases where a pregnancy related sickness absence occurs after the beginning of the fourth week before the EWC, maternity leave will start automatically from the first day of absence.
    3. The paid period of maternity leave cannot coincide with other types of absence. Sickness during this period is treated as part of the maternity leave. An employee who is sick during unpaid maternity leave may be entitled to SSP or State Incapacity Benefit and should, therefore, contact their HR Advisor for advice.
    4. An employee who is unable to return to work at the end of her maternity leave, due to sickness, will be treated as being on sick leave in accordance with the University's Sickness Absence Procedure. Likewise sickness, whether pregnancy related or not, occurring after a return to work is treated in the same way.

Additional provisions

All pregnant employees, regardless of length of service or hours worked:

    • are expected to return to the same job they did prior to maternity leave, but if that is not possible, a similar job on terms and conditions of employment which are no less favourable
    • should be protected from risk in the workplace
    • have protection against detriment, disadvantage, unfair treatment or dismissal arising from the pregnancy or maternity leave
    • may be offered up to ten 'Keeping In Touch' (KIT) days during maternity leave without losing entitlement to maternity pay

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  • Last reviewed: 31 July 2014