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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice.

Maternity leave pay and arrangements

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Making arrangements: What you need to do
    1. Notification prior to maternity leave
    2. Notification following the birth
    3. Notice of changes
    4. MATB1 Certificate
  3. Maternity leave
    1. Entitlement
    2. When can maternity leave be taken?
    3. Returning to work
  4. Contact during maternity leave
  5. Maternity pay
    1. Statutory Maternity Pay
    2. Occupational Maternity Pay
    3. Maternity Allowance
    4. Entitlement to SMP if you leave employment
    5. SMP for further pregnancies
  6. Further guidance
    1. Ante natal care
    2. Returning to work
    3. Maternity leave and your employment contract
    4. Impact on your pensions
    5. Miscarriage, stillbirth or death of a baby
    6. Fertility treatment

1. Introduction

The information in this guide applies to all pregnant employees, both teaching and non teaching who are either:

  • employed under Local Government Services Green Book Conditions of Service
  • employed within a Dorset LA school and are covered by the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document and the Burgundy Book
  • employed by an Academy that follows nationally agreed conditions of service for either/both teaching or non teaching staff. 

The Local Authority/School provides occupational maternity benefits in addition to the statutory maternity entitlements: you will receive whichever benefits are better for you.

There is an entitlement to only one period of maternity leave regardless of the number of babies born as a result of a single pregnancy.

If you are entitled to maternity leave, you may also have the option of converting some of your maternity leave and statutory maternity pay into shared parental leave and shared parental pay. You may wish to do this if you want to share some of the first year's leave and statutory pay with your partner/the child's father or you could use it to take leave on a more flexible basis. Note that your entitlement to occupational maternity pay will cease if you convert to shared parental leave/pay as the only entitlement under shared parental leave/pay is to statutory maternity pay. Further information regarding shared parental leave can be found in the shared parental leave guidance

If you have a child through surrogacy but are not the birth mother, you are not entitled to maternity leave. If you are the intended parent in a surrogacy arrangement, you may be entitled to adoption leave. Otherwise, you may be entitled to take unpaid parental leave. Surrogate mothers who carry a child are entitled to the statutory and contractual maternity scheme.

This guidance does not preclude schools from developing their own family friendly provisions to augment the ones outlined here. Your school will inform you if this is the case.

2. Making arrangements: what you need to do

It is your responsibility to inform your Headteacher of your pregnancy and the dates that you want to take maternity leave.

Headteachers should ensure that any letters, emails or notifications from their employee regarding their pregnancy are copied or forwarded onto HR/Pay Support Services or your payroll provider so that HR and pay records are updated.

2.1. Notification prior to maternity leave

You must notify your Headteacher in writing of your intention to start maternity leave at least 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) unless you have good reason not to do so. If you wish to claim maternity pay then you must give at least 28 days notice of the date you wish to start your maternity pay. The school will provide you with a form to complete to ensure that you are providing the correct information which includes the following:

  • a statement to say that you are pregnant
  • confirmation of your EWC
  • the date on which you want your maternity leave and pay to start
  • a statement to say that you are intending to return to work for three months following your maternity leave period, (if you are eligible and intend to take half pay whilst on maternity leave).

Your Headteacher will ensure that HR/Pay Support Services or your payroll provider provides you with details of your pay and leave entitlements, as well as the date of your expected return to work at this point.

2.2. Notification following the birth

You should notify your Headteacher of the date of the birth as soon as possible after the event. Your Headteacher will then notify HR/Pay Support Services

2.3. Notice of changes

You can change your mind about the date you wish to start your maternity leave and pay but you must give written notice of whichever is the earlier of:

  • at least 28 days before the date that you originally intended to start your maternity leave, or
  • 28 days before the new date that you want to change the leave unless this is not reasonably practicable

Your Headteacher will confirm any changes to the date of your expected return in writing within 28 days of your notification and send a copy to HR/Pay Support Services.

2.4. MATB1 Certificate

Approximately 20 weeks before your expected date of childbirth (EDD) you must supply your Headteacher with an original of your MATB1 form. This form can be obtained from your midwife or GP and you can request multiple copies from them at the time of issue.

3. Maternity Leave

3.1. Entitlement

You are entitled to 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks additional maternity leave, a total of 52 weeks, regardless of the number of hours you work per week or your length of service. Additional maternity leave will start immediately after ordinary maternity leave ends. You do not have to take 52 weeks however all the leave you take must be taken in one continuous period. You must take at least two weeks maternity leave following the birth of your baby, during which time you are not able to come back to work.

3.2. When can maternity leave be taken?

The earliest you can start maternity leave is 11 weeks before the EWC. The exception to this is if the baby is born early then your maternity leave starts the day after the birth. However, it is your choice when you start maternity leave and you can, if you want to, continue working right up until the birth. If you chose to work up until the birth then your maternity leave will start the day after the birth. When you are planning your maternity leave, you may wish to have discussions with your Headteacher about your intended start date and date of return to work so that your Headteacher can make arrangements for cover.

If you become sick and are off work with a pregnancy related illness in the four weeks before the EWC (Sunday to Saturday), or if you are already off sick with pregnancy related illness going into this week, then your maternity leave will automatically start on the next day.

3.3. Returning to work

It will be assumed that employees will take the full 52 weeks maternity leave, unless notified otherwise.

If you return to work at the end of the additional maternity leave period, you are not required to give any notice; however it would be useful to do so in order that arrangements can be made for your return to work.

If you wish to change the date of your return to work, you must give at least 21 days notice of the expected date of return, or the new date if earlier. This may include returning to work:

  • during or after your period of ordinary maternity leave
  • during your period of additional maternity leave
  • after the end of your additional maternity leave (i.e. extending it using annual, parental or other leave)

If you fail to provide the required notice, your employer can postpone your return for up to 21 days (as long as this doesn't take you past the end of your 52 week leave period) and you will not be reinstated on payroll until you have returned to work.

4. Contact during maternity leave

Employees are able to work for up to 10 days during their ordinary or additional maternity leave if this is agreed without bringing the leave to an end. These are called keeping in touch (KIT) days. Your maternity leave period will not be extended by KIT days.

KIT days cannot be taken during the first two weeks following the birth of your child.

Schools cannot insist that these days are worked and they are not under any obligation to offer you such work, they must be mutually agreed. Work may include training or any activity undertaken for the purposes of keeping in touch with the workplace, such as attending conferences, appraisals or team meetings.

Any work you do as a KIT day, even as little as half an hour for example, will be counted as a whole day for the purposes of subtracting that KIT day from your KIT days allowance.

Payment can be made subject to agreement with your Headteacher for such work. You will be paid at your contractual rate for any hours worked under the KIT days scheme and these hours only. Childcare costs arising from KIT days will not be paid by the school. Any statutory maternity pay (SMP) or maternity allowance (MA) payments made during this period will be offset against any pay due. 

Schools need to ensure that you are kept informed of vacancies, any significant workplace developments and training opportunities whilst you are on maternity leave. You school may also make reasonable contact with you to discuss issues of return to work. This type of contact isn't considered work and as such will not form part of the ten KIT days.

If you work more than 10 KIT days then your maternity pay will automatically cease.

5. Maternity pay

Your maternity pay starts when your maternity leave starts. Maternity pay is payable for the first 39 weeks of maternity leave. The remaining 13 weeks is unpaid.

The school provides occupational maternity pay (OMP) in addition to SMP. You may be entitled to one or both and you will be entitled to whichever set of provisions are most beneficial to you.

5.1. Statutory Maternity Pay

You are entitled to 39 weeks SMP if you:

  • have at least 26 weeks continuous service with your current employer by the qualifying week (fifteenth week before the week in which your baby is due. The definition of a week for this purpose is a period of 7 days that begins at midnight between Saturday and Sunday.) AND
  • your average earnings are at least as much as the lower earnings limit for National Insurance (NI) contributions at the end of your qualifying week (although you don't necessarily have to pay NI).

The 39 weeks SMP comprises:

  • 90% of your average weekly earnings* (before statutory deductions) for the first 6 weeks
  • 33 weeks at the lower rate of SMP (which is reviewed by the Government each year) or 90% of your average weekly salary, whichever is lower.

*Your average weekly earnings is the average of payments made over the eight weeks prior to the end of the qualifying week.

5.2. Occupational Maternity Pay

Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP) is provided by the School as a benefit to its employees. There are different schemes available for teaching and support staff. Further guidance on eligibility for either scheme can be found at appendix A (teachers) or appendix B (support staff). Under the terms of both schemes however, if you are eligible to receive OMP and you choose to receive the half pay element then you will be required to return to work for at least 3 months following maternity leave, regardless of whether you return on a full or part time basis. If you do not return to work after your maternity leave and you have been in receipt of OMP then you will normally be required to pay your half pay back.

5.3. Maternity Allowance

If you do not meet the eligibility criteria for SMP then you may be entitled to Maternity Allowance (MA) paid by the Benefits Agency if you have worked for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks preceding your expected week of childbirth. This situation may arise for example where periods of maternity leave overlap or are concurrent and the new qualifying week falls in the unpaid part of maternity leave.

The Benefits Agency will base their assessment on your recent earnings and employment record. In order to get MA you will need to complete an MA1 form, available from your local Benefits Agency, maternity clinic or Health Centre. If you are excluded from SMP, your payroll provider will provide you with an SMP1 form which you should submit to your Benefits Agency together with the MA1 form, your MATB1 and any payslips from the relevant period. If you are not eligible for MA you may be eligible for incapacity benefit during part of your pregnancy.

5.4. Entitlement to SMP if you leave employment

If you are employed on the qualifying week and you are made redundant, you leave your job or your fixed term contract ends before or during your period of maternity leave, you will be entitled to the full 39 weeks of SMP. OMP is payable up to the date of leaving employment/end of the fixed term contract.

If you qualify for SMP, you are entitled to receive it whether or not you intend to return to work at the end of your maternity leave.

If you leave your job voluntarily before the qualifying week then you will not be eligible for SMP.

If you are on a fixed term contract which is due to end after the start of the qualifying week and you remain employed during the qualifying week, you will still be entitled to receive SMP (or MA if not eligible to receive SMP). Consequently, you must notify the school of your intention to take maternity leave.

If you are taken into legal custody during your maternity pay period, you will no longer be entitled to any maternity pay.

5.5. SMP for further pregnancies

Please note that if you are on additional maternity leave and then have a further pregnancy, the lower earnings limit for NI contributions will still apply and you may not qualify for SMP for a second period of maternity leave.

6. Further guidance

6.1. Ante-natal care

All pregnant employees have the right to paid time off to attend ante-natal care. This may include relaxation classes or parentcraft classes. Your Headteacher may wish to see evidence of your appointments and you should aim to provide as much notice as possible.

6.2. Returning to work

Maintained (VC and Community) Schools

If you work in a maintained (VC or community) school and return to work after your Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML), then you have the right to return to the same role and terms and conditions you left before you went on maternity leave. If you are returning to work after your Additional Maternity Leave (AML) then you have the right to return to the same role and terms and conditions you left before you went on maternity leave unless it is not practical for the school to do so, for example because the job no longer exists. If this is case you should be offered another suitable role with the same terms and conditions where one exists. Please note that the right is to return to the same role, i.e. teacher, teaching assistant, not to a specific class. This applies even if you return to another maintained school

If you're returning to work at the end of your 52 week entitlement, you don't need to do anything. However, if you wish to return to work before the end of your full entitlement (52 weeks) or before a previously notified return date, you will need to provide appropriate notice.

If you wish to change the date of your return to work, you must give at least 21 days' notice of the expected date of return. If you fail to provide the required notice, your employer can postpone your return for up to 21 days (as long as this doesn't take you past the end of your 52 week leave period) and you will not be reinstated on payroll until you have returned to work.

Foundation, VA Schools or Academies/MAT's

If you work in a Foundation or VA school, Academy or MAT and return to work after your Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML), then you have the right to return to the same role and terms and conditions you left before you went on maternity leave. If you are returning to work after your Additional Maternity Leave (AML) then you have the right to return to the same role and terms and conditions you left before you went on maternity leave unless it is not practical for the school to do so, for example because the job no longer exists. If this is case you should be offered another suitable role with the same terms and conditions where one exists. Please note that the right is to return to the same role, i.e. teacher, teaching assistant, not to a specific class and must be to the same employer (Foundation or VA School, Academy or MAT). If you do not return to the same employer then they have the discretion to recover any OMP in these circumstances.

If you're returning to work at the end of your 52 week entitlement, you don't need to do anything. However, if you wish to return to work before the end of your full entitlement (52 weeks) or before a previously notified return date, you will need to provide appropriate notice.

If you wish to change the date of your return to work, you must give at least 21 days' notice of the expected date of return. If you fail to provide the required notice, your employer can postpone your return for up to 21 days (as long as this doesn't take you past the end of your 52 week leave period) and you will not be reinstated on payroll until you have returned to work.

Breastfeeding on return to work

You should provide your Headteacher with written notification that you are breastfeeding before you return to work where possible and give details of the nature of your request. For example, do you wish to make a temporary adjustment to working hours to go home or to nearby childcare to breastfeed your baby, or would you like to be provided with somewhere to rest and to express and store milk during working hours? You will need to discuss your individual requirements with your Headteacher.

In addition you may also want to discuss what information you/your Headteacher will share about your choice with your colleagues, particularly where it may help them understand how their job roles may change for a short period.

The school will undertake a risk assessment as soon as you return to work and this should be kept up to date until 6 months from the date you return or whenever you stop breastfeeding, whichever is later.

Flexible working arrangements

If you have 26 weeks continuous service, you may request to work more flexibly on your return from maternity leave. There is no automatic right for requests to be accepted but the School will give serious consideration to your request. Please refer to the Flexible Working Framework available on Schoolsnet for further information and guidance. Please note that any change in your contract on your return from maternity leave will be permanent and you will not have the right to return to your previous contract, unless a trial period is agreed.

Deciding not to return

If you are undecided as to whether to return to work following your maternity leave, you can leave your options open until after you have had your baby.

If you decide not to return to work you should submit a written resignation and the normal process for termination of employment and notice periods will apply. For teaching staff this will be set out in the Burgundy Book and for support staff this will be set out in your contract of employment. If you specify the date on which you wish to terminate the contract, statutory maternity leave will continue as planned. If you are entitled to SMP, this will continue for the full 39 weeks provided that during this period you do not start work for an employer who did not employ you in the 15th week before your expected due date. 

Please note that under the provisions of both the Burgundy Book and the Green Book, the school has the discretion to recover any OMP in these circumstances.

6.3. Maternity leave and your employment contract

While you are on maternity leave, your employment service is regarded as continuous. This means that you continue to build up your entitlement to benefits such as annual leave and sick pay entitlements. Entitlement to any salary sacrifice benefits, such as childcare vouchers also continues when you take maternity leave.

The accrued annual leave must be taken at a time outside of your maternity leave period but will be offset by school closures either before or after the period of leave during your leave year. In the unlikely event that the leave cannot be taken during school closures in that school year, any outstanding balance must be taken during term time on your return to work. If there is not sufficient time left in a school term for all leave to be taken, the balance will be carried over to the new leave year (although once again the balance will be taken from school closure periods where possible).

Payment in lieu of annual leave will only be made where you don't return to work following maternity leave.

You are not entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) whilst in the period of entitlement to SMP. If you are sick when you are due to return to work, you should notify the school in the normal way and you will receive sick pay in line with your entitlements. Please note that this will not count as a return to work.

6.4. Impact on your pensions

If you are a member of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), the amount of pension you build up won't be affected by any period of maternity leave. This means that if you have a period of reduced pay or no pay during shared parental leave, your pension is still worked out using an average of your usual pensionable pay.

If you are a member of the Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS) and are receiving pay during your maternity leave then your pensionable service will continue and your contributions will be based on the pay you get while you're on leave. If you're not receiving pay you cannot choose to continue to make pension contributions during the unpaid period of leave - these days will be regarded as 'excluded days'. 

6.5. Miscarriage, still-birth or death of a baby

If your baby dies or is stillborn after 24 weeks pregnancy the maternity scheme will still apply. Where this occurs before 24 weeks (miscarriage) or there is a termination, your school should give you sympathetic consideration according to the circumstances and where necessary authorise special leave or sick leave, as appropriate. The decision will be based on your needs and medical opinion.

If you are affected by miscarriage, stillbirth or death of a baby, a range of useful services and resources are available from employee wellbeing. A staff counselling service is also available.

6.6. Fertility treatment

Reasonable time off will be considered for employees undertaking fertility treatment. This may include time off for tests, appointments and operations. There is no requirement for such time off to be paid.

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