1. Regardless of length of service or hours of work, expectant mothers are entitled to up to 52 weeks maternity leave. This comprises 26 weeks Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) and 26 weeks Additional Maternity Leave (AML).
  2. All pregnant employees, regardless of length of service or hours worked, must take a minimum of 2 weeks maternity leave immediately after the birth of their child.

2. Maternity pay

  1. Subject to satisfying the qualifying criteria, a pregnant employee will usually be entitled to Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP), Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance (MA) for all, or part, of her maternity leave dependent upon how much leaves she decides to take. She must follow the associated maternity procedure.
  2. The table below shows the criteria required for each category.
  3. Qualifying criteria Entitlement to pay
    52+ weeks continuous service at the start of the week in which the baby is due/EWC* Occupational Maternity Pay - (OMP includes an entitlement to SMP)
    Undertakes to return to work for a minimum of 3 months after maternity leave (for contracts expiring within this period see 6.8)
    26+ weeks continuous service up to and including the 15th week before your EWC* Statutory Maternity Pay - (SMP only)
    AWE** not less than the lower earnings limit for NI contributions
    Must submit medical evidence of EWC
    Must have stopped working
    Less than 26 weeks service up to and including 15th week before EWC* Maternity Allowance (MA) may be payable

    *EWC Expected week of childbirth

    **AWE Average weekly earnings

  4. The table below shows the pay an employee may expect during maternity leave.
  5. Occupational maternity pay (OMP)
    18 weeks full pay 21 weeks SMP or 90% of AWE, whichever is less 13 weeks unpaid
    Statutory maternity pay (SMP)
    6 weeks 90% of AWE 33 weeks SMP or 90% of AWE, whichever is less 13 weeks unpaid
    Maternity allowance (MA)
    39 weeks SMP or 90% AWE, whichever is less 13 weeks unpaid
    1. Where OMP is paid it includes the entitlement to SMP.
    2. SMP is based on an employee's earnings in the eight week period up to and including the 15th week before her baby is due ('the qualifying period').
    3. SMP, and consequently maternity leave, cannot start prior to the 11th week before the employee's EWC.
    4. SMP can start from any day of the week in accordance with the date the employee starts her maternity leave.
    5. SMP is payable irrespective of whether or not the employee intends to return to work after maternity leave.
    6. An employee on a career break will not be eligible for OMP. As SMP is based on the employee's AWE in the 8 weeks preceding maternity leave, entitlement to SMP may also be affected.
    7. An employee who is not entitled to SMP may be entitled to Maternity Allowance which is paid by Jobcentre Plus. To qualify she must have been employed or self-employed for 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks before the EWC. Details on how to apply are on form SMP1 which is available from the Payroll Office.

3. Notification of pregnancy - requirements for starting maternity leave

  1. The employee is advised to notify her manager of her pregnancy as soon as possible so that a health and safety risk assessment may be carried out. It is recommended that the employee and her manager meet to plan arrangements and to discuss any potential issues anticipated, or arising, due to the pregnancy.
  2. Maternity leave will start on whichever date is earliest:
    • The employee's chosen start date ie any time after the beginning of the 11th week before the employee's EWC or
    • The day after the employee gives birth, in the case of a Premature Birth; or
    • The day after any day on which the employee is absent for a pregnancy related illness in the four weeks before the EWC
  3. Applying for Maternity Leave (Form ML1: Application for Maternity Leave) and Risk Assessment (Form ML2: Risk Assessment for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Employees)
    1. It is the employee's responsibility to complete forms ML1 and ML2:
    2. The ML1 must be completed by, at least, the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) or as soon as is practicable thereafter confirming:

      • that she is pregnant
      • her EWC
      • the date she intends to commence maternity leave

      The ML2 should be completed as soon as possible so that any risks can be identified and addressed.

    3. The employee should pass the completed forms to her manager who is responsible for checking them and, where appropriate, adding comments to the ML2, before sending both forms to HR Services.
    4. If either the employee or her manager have concerns arising from the Risk Assessment and the demands of the job they may contact the Director of Health and Safety (Ext 4251) or the Occupational Health Advisor (Ext 4608) for advice and guidance.
  4. Providing medical confirmation of maternity dates MAT B1
  5. When the employee is approximately 20 weeks pregnant, she will receive a MAT B1 form from her midwife/GP, formally confirming her EWC which she must send to HR Services when it is issued.

  6. Confirming the details of maternity leave
  7. On receipt of the ML1 and ML2 forms HR Services will write to the employee, confirming details, including the date when her maternity leave will end. This will be sent within 28 days of receiving the forms. HR Services will confirm the date the employee is expected to return to work if she takes her full 52 week entitlement to maternity leave.

  8. Changing the start date of maternity leave
    1. An employee may bring forward, or postpone, her maternity leave start date providing she does so in writing, giving at least 28 days' notice of the new date or as soon as is reasonably practicable. Notification should be sent to her manager, copied to HR Services.
    2. If the baby is born before the intended start of maternity leave, HR Services should be advised in writing of the baby's date of birth. This should be done, as soon as reasonably practicable, by the employee or someone acting on her behalf. Arrangements will then be made for maternity leave and pay to start from the day after the birth.
  9. Arranging Maternity Cover
  10. The Manager should consider options for covering work during maternity leave and can contact their HR Advisor for assistance if required.

  11. Confirming return to work (Form ML3: Return to Work after Maternity Leave)
  12. For an employee taking maternity leave in accordance with the Statutory Maternity entitlement only, and where she is intending to return at the end of her total maternity leave ie after 52 weeks, there is no formal requirement to complete an ML3.

    All other employees must confirm a return to work date by completing an ML3 and send it to HR Services. This should be done at the earliest opportunity and normally at least 8 weeks before the planned date of return.

4. Keeping in Touch during maternity leave - including KIT days

  1. The employee and her manager are encouraged to maintain reasonable contact during maternity leave to make the return to work easier. It is recommended that the frequency and method of contact during maternity leave be discussed in advance of maternity leave starting. Managers must ensure that employees are kept informed about changes at work, particularly if any of the changes will directly affect the individual's job or career development.
  2. Shortly before maternity leave begins, a pregnant employee's manager should discuss a handover and arrangements for keeping in touch during maternity leave.
  3. By mutual agreement, an employee may work for up to ten Keeping in Touch (KIT) days during her maternity leave without affecting her right to statutory maternity leave or pay - KIT days can be taken at any time during maternity leave apart from the two week period immediately following childbirth.
  4. If KIT days are used the manager will need to inform Payroll by email confirming the date of the KIT day and the number of hours worked, so that, where necessary, a payment can be made. A 'day', in KIT terms, is defined as anything from attending a 1 hour meeting to a full 7.4 hour day. The employee is paid for her Keeping in Touch days, they must not be used to accrue time off in lieu.
  5. Payment for a KIT day will be inclusive of SMP payment for the week. Where payment for the day's work is in excess of the weekly SMP payment, the difference will be paid. Where payment for a day's work is less than the weekly SMP payment then the employee will receive the SMP payment only.
  6. The type of work undertaken during KIT days must be agreed between the employee and her manager and might typically include attending a conference, training course, or a meeting. It is not intended that an employee use these days to continue her work during maternity leave or to work from home.
  7. The employer is not obliged to offer KIT days; similarly the employee is not obliged to work any that are offered.

5. Preparing for a return to work

  1. Notification requirements for ending maternity leave
    1. An employee can return to work any time from 2 weeks after the birth and before AML has finished.
    2. An employee who qualifies for OMP should formally notify her manager of her return to work date by completing form ML3. This should be done at least 8 weeks before the intended return to work date. The manager is responsible for forwarding the form to HR Services.
    3. Where an employee takes maternity leave in accordance with the Statutory Maternity entitlement, it is assumed she will be returning to work at the end of the total maternity leave period ie after 52 weeks. This will have been confirmed to the employee by HR Services. No further action is required unless the employee changes her mind and decides to return to work early, in which case an ML3 form should be submitted to her manager giving at least 8 weeks' notice of the new return to work date.
    4. Where an employee wishes to return to work earlier than planned but fails to give the correct notice period, the University may postpone her return to work date until 8 weeks' notice has been given or until her 52 week's maternity leave expires.
    5. Usually the employee will return to the same job in which she was employed prior to maternity leave, on the same terms and conditions of employment as if she had not been absent. If this is not possible, she should be offered a similar job on terms and conditions of employment which are no less favourable.
    6. Shortly before returning to work, or as soon after returning as possible, the employee should complete a second risk assessment (ML2) and discuss it with her manager. This is particularly important as there is a legal requirement on the University to protect the breastfeeding mother and her child. If the employee or her manager would like any specialist or confidential advice on the possible risks involved in her work whilst she is breastfeeding they should contact the Director of Health and Safety or the Occupational Health Advisor.

6. Reducing hours and flexible working

  1. An employee who is a parent of a child under 17 has the statutory right to request flexible working arrangements. Further information can be found in the University's flexible working policy.
  2. The University gives sympathetic consideration to a request from a full time employee who wishes to return to work on a part time basis after maternity leave. The employee is encouraged to discuss her situation with her manager as soon as possible, to complete a flexible working request in line with the Flexible Working Policy at least 12 weeks prior to returning to work and to agree any new working arrangements prior to her return. She also needs to submit an ML3 form with details of the new working arrangements at least 8 weeks before the planned return date.

7. Altering the return to work date

  1. Changes to the original return to work date can be made by submitting a revised ML3 form at least 8 weeks before the intended return date.

8. Resigning after maternity leave

  1. An employee who decides not to return to work after maternity leave must give written notice to her manager of her resignation. It is helpful to receive as much notice as possible, but this should not be less than the notice period in the employee's contract of employment. Where appropriate, a payment will be made in lieu of annual leave not taken before the start of maternity leave and calculated up to the last working day.
  2. Failure to return to work at the end of maternity leave will be treated as unauthorised absence unless the employee is sick and produces a medical certificate to cover the absence from the end of the maternity period. Where an employee fails to return to work by the agreed date, without explanation, this may be treated as unauthorised absence.
  3. Where an employee who qualifies for OMP fails to return to work for a minimum of 3 months after maternity leave, the University will normally reclaim some of the maternity pay paid to her. The amount to be reclaimed would be the non-statutory element of maternity pay. The University's decision to reclaim any excess paid will take account of the circumstances of the individual case.

9. Preparing for an employee's return from maternity leave - manager responsibilities

  1. Prior to the employee returning to work, the manager should ensure arrangements are in place for the mother's return. For example, ensuring she is updated of any changes since going on maternity leave, arranging any training required etc.
  2. Completing a risk assessment post maternity leave
  3. When the employee returns to work, she must complete a second ML2 risk assessment. Her manager will add detail, where appropriate, and send copies to HR Services, the Director of Health and Safety, and retain a copy within the department.

    Once again, if there are any issues arising from the Risk Assessment, the employee or her manager may contact the Director of Health and Safety (Ext 4251) or the Occupational Health Advisor (Ext 4608) for advice and guidance.

  4. Please also refer to the page on guidance for departments

10. Managing Redundancy - termination of a contract during maternity leave

  1. Where an employee's contract is due to end during maternity leave, the University's redundancy policy will be used.
  2. With the employee's agreement, redundancy consultations may start early, ie before the maternity leave begins. This will not affect her statutory or contractual rights and she will still receive access to redeployment opportunities, if relevant, at the appropriate time.
  3. An employee who receives OMP is expected to return to work for at least 3 months, or to the end of her contract, whichever date is sooner. Where this is not possible due, for example, to the contract expiring, she will not be required to return to work for the full 3 months and maternity pay under the University's Occupational Maternity Scheme, if applicable, will be paid until the expiry of the contract.
  4. If an employee's contract ends before her entitlement to SMP ceases, she will remain on the University's payroll for the remainder of the period for which she is eligible for SMP. All of her SMP entitlement will be paid via the University. Her leaving date will be the date on which funding ceased, so contractual benefits such as leave entitlement and redundancy calculations would be based on this date.

11. Unforeseen circumstances

  1. Premature Birth
    1. If the employee's baby is born prematurely but after her maternity leave has already started, the rules governing Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP), Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and Maternity Allowance (MA) do not change.
    2. If the employee gives birth prematurely before or during the 15th week before the EWC, known as the Qualifying Week (QW) she is still entitled to receive Occupational Maternity Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance as originally envisaged provided:
      • in the case of SMP or OMP, she would have qualified for it through her length of service by the end of the original QW. (NB. the week in which the birth was expected is still used for assessing continuous service);
      • in the case of SMP, her average weekly earnings are not less than the lower earnings limit for the payment of National Insurance Contributions normally calculated for a period of 8 weeks ending with the QW. The employee is still entitled to take up to 52 weeks maternity leave, the leave being calculated from the actual date her maternity leave starts.
  2. Supporting the Parents of Premature or Sick Babies
    1. The University will adopt the approach outlined by ACAS in their help and advice on Workplace support for parents with premature or sick babies recognising this can be a very difficult and worrying time for them.
    2. The guidance covers the encouragement of careful communication, approaching parents to make sure they are comfortable being contacted by colleagues from work with offers of help and asking parents what they would like their colleagues to be told about their situation.
    3. The University recognises the need to approach this situation with compassion and flexibility and assumptions will not be made about the parent's return to the workplace.
  3. Miscarriage and Stillbirth
    1. If a miscarriage occurs earlier than the 24th week of pregnancy, the employee will not qualify for Maternity Leave or OMP, SMP or MA. Any period of sickness absence will be dealt with under the normal sick pay arrangements.
    2. In the event of a stillbirth from the 24th week of pregnancy onwards, the employee will be eligible for maternity leave, OMP, SMP or MA in the normal way.
    3. Helpful information on miscarriage may be found on the Miscarriage Association website at
    4. Employees may also wish to access the University's confidential counselling service.

12. Monitoring

Implementation of the Policy and Procedure will be monitored through reports from ResourceLink and notified to Equality and Diversity Committee.

13. Related documents

The following policies may also be of interest to prospective or new parents:

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  • Last reviewed: 31 July 2014