Maternity Leave

 

1. Statutory Maternity Pay

1.1 Some requirements and benefits of the University's maternity leave scheme vary from the statutory requirements and benefits of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). Care should be taken to distinguish between the respective requirements and benefits of the two schemes. Maternity leave with full pay as mentioned in this scheme includes any relevant Statutory Maternity Pay. Statutory Maternity Pay at the lower rate will be paid to members of staff eligible for it in addition to half-pay for a maximum period of 16 weeks. No combination of payments should exceed full pay.

2. Ante-natal care

2.1 Any pregnant employee has the right to paid time off to attend for antenatal care, but must produce evidence of appointments if requested to do so by the University.

3. Qualifying Period of Service

3.1 To qualify for maternity leave under the University's enhanced scheme, an employee should have been continuously employed in the University's service for a minimum period of twelve months before the expected week of childbirth.

3.2 All other employees are entitled to 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks’ additional maternity leave regardless of length of service. Additional maternity leave begins at the end of ordinary maternity leave.

All employees must take at least two weeks’ compulsory maternity leave immediately after the birth before returning to work.

4. Notification for start of maternity leave

To take advantage of the right to maternity leave an employee must notify the University no later than the end of the 15th week before the week her baby is due or as soon as reasonably practicable:

    • that she is pregnant;
    • when the expected week of childbirth will be, by means of a medical certificate
    • when she intends her maternity leave to start

However, in order to assist the University to discharge its responsibilities towards the health and safety of the pregnant employee and her unborn child, it is advisable that written notification should be given at an early stage in the pregnancy.

5. Commencement of Maternity Leave

The employee may commence maternity leave at any time from the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth up to the day of the birth, and notice should be given in writing of the intended start date of the leave 28 days before the leave is due to start, or as soon as reasonably practical. Entitlement to maternity leave will be calculated from the agreed date of cessation of work, or from the actual date of cessation of work, if earlier.

6. Period of Maternity Leave under the University's Scheme

6.1 Employees that qualify for the University’s enhanced scheme shall be entitled to receive:

    1. 8 weeks on full pay 1
    2. 16 weeks on half pay1
    3. 15 weeks Statutory Maternity Pay1
    4. 13 weeks unpaid leave.2

1 together ordinary maternity leave 2 additional maternity leave

6.2 Employees who do not fulfil the conditions set out in paragraph 3.1 will in accordance with paragraph 3.2 receive:

    • six weeks on 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings; and
    • 33 weeks on the lesser of current weekly rate of statutory maternity pay or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings

7. Employee who does not return to work

Nothing in this agreement shall prejudice the right of the University to reclaim the whole or part of the non-statutory element of maternity pay if the employee fails to return to work after maternity leave and continue in employment for at least three months.

8. Keeping in Touch Days

An employee can agree to work for the University for up to 10 days during the maternity leave period, without bringing her maternity leave to an end. However, the University is not obliged to offer, nor the employee to accept, such work. Any days worked for the University during the maternity leave period in accordance with this section will be paid at the contractual rate of pay for the duration of the hours worked. This payment is inclusive of any statutory maternity pay and or additional employer contributions.

The days can be used for any form of keeping in touch, including activities such as training or meetings. Any part of a day worked will count as one ‘Keep in Touch’ day.

Any work done on any day during the maternity pay or maternity leave period will count as a whole ‘Keep in Touch’ day, up to the 10-day maximum. In other words, if an employee comes in for a one-hour training session and does no other work that day, she will have used one of her ‘Keep in Touch’ days.

If the work carried out during one shift straddles midnight it may be counted as one day for the purposes of ‘Keep in Touch’ days, if the employee's normal working pattern is such that this would fall within a normal working day.

No ‘Keep in Touch’ days may be worked during the two weeks following birth.

In order to process the payment for any ‘Keep in Touch’ days worked, please complete the ‘Keep in Touch’ request form. This must be signed by both the employee and the Institute Director/Head of Service Department confirming agreement by both parties to the ‘Keep in Touch’ day. This form must be forwarded to the Department of Human Resources as soon as possible in order to ensure prompt payment.

9. Sick Leave Arrangements

A pregnant employee who is absent from work due to illness will normally be able to take sick leave until she starts her maternity leave on the date notified to the University. If the illness is unrelated to the employee’s pregnancy she can remain on sick leave and will be subject to the University’s sickness absence policy up to the date of the baby’s birth, or until the date she has notified as the date on which she intends her maternity leave to start.

If, however the illness is pregnancy related the maternity leave period starts automatically on the day after the first day of absence following the beginning of the fourth week before the expected week of childbirth. This applies even if the day of absence is before the date the employee has notified as the date on which she intends her leave to start. Odd days of pregnancy related illness may be disregarded at the University’s discretion if the employee wishes to defer the start of her maternity leave period.

10. Arrangements for returning to work

An employee who has opted to return to work may exercise this right at any time within 52 weeks of the commencement of the maternity leave period (or 26 weeks if the employee is only taking ordinary maternity leave), except that she may not return within two weeks of the birth of her child. After ordinary maternity leave an employee will be entitled to return to her previous job. After additional maternity leave she will normally return to the job in which she was employed under the original contract of employment and on terms applicable to her if she had not been absent. Where this is not possible, alternative employment, on similar (no less favourable) terms and conditions will be offered. Notification of return to work if earlier than the end of maternity leave entitlement should be given in writing at least at least 8 weeks before the intended date of return.

The employee continues to be employed during the maternity suspension period which therefore counts towards her period of continuous employment for the purposes of seniority, pension rights, redundancy rights and other similar rights. In this connection it has been agreed that:

  • Pension rights and contributions shall be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the local superannuation scheme, provided that these provisions do not conflict with any relevant statutory requirements that may at the time apply;
  • The employee shall be entitled to receive the normal annual increment on her scale in accordance with her contract of employment to take effect from the normal incremental date;
  • Periods of ordinary and additional maternity leave shall count towards the calculation of annual leave entitlement. (For further information staff are advised to contact the Human Resources Department).

11. Live and still births

There shall be no distinction between live and still births in the granting of maternity leave.

12. Health and Safety at Work

The University acknowledges the importance of protecting from avoidable risk pregnant and breast-feeding employees and their children, including the unborn. In the event of the employee being employed on work which could involve risk to the health and safety of a new or expectant mother, or to that of her baby, arrangements will be made to protect both the mother and the child, having regard to the statutory health and safety provisions that may at the time apply.

13. Adoption Leave

While this scheme does not include a provision on adoption leave, employees intending to adopt can be considered for the benefits of the Maternity Leave Scheme, subject to:

  • Local discretion on the part of the University;
  • The employee giving advance notification of the intention to adopt, and;

The rules of the Adoption Agency or Local Authority regulating the adoption.

14. Staff not Returning to Work

An employee who satisfies the conditions of paragraph 4.1 above, but who has given notice to the University of her intention not to return to work after her maternity leave shall receive the benefits set out in paragraphs 4.2 and 7.2.

15. Staff not Returning to Work

Average weekly earnings shall be calculated in accordance with SMP Regulations that may at that time apply.

16. Explanatory Notes on the Provisions of the Scheme

Amendment of employment contract on return to work after maternity leave

While return to part-time work is not a right, the University will give sympathetic consideration to a request from a full-time employee who wishes to return to work on a part-time or job-share basis after maternity leave. The employee should submit her request in writing as early as practicable but in any event not later than eight weeks before the notified date of return to work.

Information on vacancies

While the Maternity Leave Scheme gives no right of re-employment to an individual who resigns for reasons of maternity, an individual who resigns her post will be informed on the form of notification of pregnancy that she can approach the University at a later date if she wishes to be advised of suitable vacancies.

Accrual of annual leave during maternity leave

Before taking maternity leave an individual should confirm with her Institute Director/Head of Service Department the period of annual leave which will accrue during her paid absence on maternity leave.