Maternity policy and procedures

Introduction to maternity rights and benefits

This policy sets out the rights of employees to maternity leave and pay.

RoS recognises that, from time to time, employees may have questions or concerns relating to their maternity rights. It is RoS' policy to encourage open discussion with employees to ensure that questions and problems can be resolved as quickly as possible. As the maternity provisions are complex, if an employee becomes pregnant she should clarify the relevant procedures with the HR department to ensure that they are followed correctly.

The following definitions are used in this policy:

"Expected week of childbirth" means the week, starting on a Sunday, during which the employee's doctor or midwife expects her to give birth.

"Qualifying week" means the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.

All pregnant employees (regardless of length of service) have the right to take up to 26 weeks' ordinary maternity leave and up to a further 26 weeks' additional maternity leave and to resume work afterwards. You are therefore entitled to a total period of 52 weeks' maternity leave. Additional maternity leave follows on immediately from the end of the period of ordinary maternity leave.

If you take maternity leave you have the right to return to work at any time during your ordinary maternity leave or additional maternity leave except during the first two weeks from the day of childbirth, subject to following the correct notification procedures as set out below.

We would advise that this policy is read in conjunction with the shared parental leave policy as some rights contained in this policy will be rescinded should you curtail your Maternity Leave and opt into (and are eligible for) the shared parental leave scheme.

How much maternity pay will I receive?

Occupational maternity pay

If you have 1 years' continuous service with RoS and/or the Civil Service and have earned, on average, at least as much as the lower earnings limit for National Insurance in the 8 week period ending with the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth, you may be entitled to maternity pay under RoS's occupational maternity arrangements.

This is more generous than the statutory provisions and, provided you satisfy the qualification criteria, you will receive 52 week's pay at your normal rate during your maternity leave period.

Where you satisfy the qualification criteria for this benefit, you will be required to confirm in writing that you agree to repay any occupational maternity pay received (less any statutory maternity pay), should you decide not to return to work and complete the equivalent of one month's paid service following your maternity leave, consecutive unpaid special leave or consecutive career break. You will be asked to confirm this by signing a "Statement of Intention and Undertaking to Repay Salary".

Where you meet the criteria for occupational maternity pay (OMP) but confirm that you do not intend to return to work at the end of your maternity leave period, the maternity pay mentioned above will be restricted to 6 weeks normal pay plus 33 weeks statutory maternity pay (SMP) paid at the standard rate or a rate equal to 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever rate is lower.

In the event that you notify RoS of your intention to take maternity leave, but are still unsure at that point whether you will return to work at the end of your maternity leave period, you can choose to receive 6 weeks full pay and defer payment of any remaining entitlement until a later date.

If you are eligible, occupational maternity pay will be paid in the normal way, through the payroll on a monthly basis and is subject to tax and national insurance deductions.

Statutory maternity pay

If you do not have 1 years' continuous service with RoS and/or the Civil Service but do meet certain qualifying criteria, you will be entitled to be paid statutory maternity pay. This is a weekly benefit paid to women who are on maternity leave.

You will qualify if you:

  • have been employed by RoS and/or the Civil Service for a continuous period of at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before your expected week of childbirth and are still employed during that week;
  • are still pregnant at the 11th week before your expected week of childbirth, or have had the baby at that time;
  • have given the proper notification of your intention to take maternity leave in line with this policy;
  • have provided the correct notification of your pregnancy as outlined in this policy
  • have normal earnings for the 8 weeks prior to the end of the 15th week before your expected week of childbirth and not less than the lower earnings limit for national insurance contributions in force at the time

As your normal weekly earnings are based on the gross average national insurance qualifying weekly earnings (including overtime i.e. all income subject to tax and national insurance), received during the 8 weeks prior to the qualifying week, it is important to be aware that if for any reason your earnings during that period are reduced, for example: if you have taken unpaid leave, or have had a period of sickness where sick pay has been exhausted, this will affect your average earnings.

Statutory maternity pay is payable for 39 weeks.  The first 6 weeks will be paid at 90% of average weekly earnings and the remainder at the lower statutory level or 90% of your average weekly earnings if this is less.  Please refer to www.gov.uk for current SMP rates.

The earliest date statutory maternity pay is payable is the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth.  Statutory maternity pay can start on any day of the week in accordance with the date you start your maternity leave.

You are entitled to statutory maternity pay regardless of whether you intend to work after your maternity leave.

If you become eligible for a pay rise between the start of the original calculation period and the end of your maternity leave (whether ordinary maternity or additional maternity leave), the higher or standard rate of statutory maternity pay will be recalculated to take account of your pay rise, regardless of whether statutory maternity pay has already been paid to you.

If you are eligible, statutory maternity pay will be paid in the normal way, through the payroll on a monthly basis and is subject to tax and NI deductions.

Maternity allowance

If you do not meet the qualifying conditions for statutory maternity pay (or the enhanced payments under RoS' occupational maternity payment scheme), you may qualify for maternity allowance (MA) or other social security benefits. Further information on these benefits can be obtained from your local JobCentre plus office. If this is the case, the HR department will provide you with an SMP1 form, which will help you apply for the allowance. (maternity allowance is payable irrespective of whether you return to work).

Timing of maternity leave

Ordinary maternity Leave can start at any time after the beginning of the 11th week before your expected week of childbirth (unless your child is born prematurely before that date in which case it will start earlier). Maternity leave will start on whichever date is the earlier of:

  • your chosen start date;
  • the day after you give birth; or
  • the day after any day on which you are absent for a pregnancy related reason in the four weeks before the expected week of childbirth.

If you give birth before your maternity leave was due to start, you must notify your line manager in writing of the date of the birth as soon as reasonably practicable.

The law obliges you to take a minimum of two weeks of maternity leave immediately after the birth of the child.

Notice requirements

On becoming pregnant, you should notify your line manager as soon as possible. This is important as there are health and safety considerations for RoS.By the end of the qualifying week, or as soon as reasonably practicable afterwards, you are required to inform RoS in writing of:

  • the fact that you are pregnant;
  • your expected week of childbirth; and
  • the date on which you intend to start your maternity leave.

You must also provide a MAT B1 form, which is a certificate from a doctor or midwife confirming the expected week of childbirth.

You are permitted to bring forward your maternity leave start date, provided that you advise your line manager in writing at least 28 days before the new start date or, if that is not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable. You may also postpone your maternity leave start date, provided that you advise your line manager in writing at least 28 days before the original proposed start date or, if that is not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable.

RoS will formally respond in writing to your notification of your leave plans within 28 days, confirming the date on which you are expected to return to work if you take your full 52-week entitlement to maternity leave.

You are required to give at least 28 days' notice of the date that you want your statutory maternity pay to begin. If it is not possible for you to give 28 days' notice, for example if the baby arrives early, you should tell RoS as soon as reasonably practicable.

Time off for antenatal care

Once you have advised RoS that you are pregnant, you will be entitled to paid time off work to attend antenatal appointments as advised by your doctor, registered midwife or registered health visitor.

Antenatal care may include relaxation and parent craft classes that your doctor, midwife or health visitor has advised you to attend, in addition to medical examinations.

You should endeavour to give your line manager as much notice as possible of antenatal appointments and, wherever possible, try to arrange them as near to the start or end of the working day as possible.

Apart from the first appointment, you should be prepared to show your line manager an appointment card if requested.

RoS employees who are the father or the pregnant woman's partner are eligible to take paid time off to accompany the employee at up to three antenatal appointments.

Health and safety

RoS has a duty to take care for the health and safety of all our employees. We will carry out a risk assessment to assess your workplace when you notify us that you are pregnant, have given birth in the last 6 months or are breastfeeding, and take such steps as are necessary to eliminate identified risks.

If a risk has been identified and it means that you cannot carry out your normal duties, you have the right to be offered suitable alternative work or, if such work is not available, to be suspended on maternity grounds, on normal pay until such time as there are no longer any risks to your health or until suitable alternative work is found.  If you are suspended during your pregnancy on full pay for this reason, the suspension period will end when your ordinary maternity leave period begins. All your contractual rights will continue to apply during this period of suspension unless you unreasonably refuse an offer of suitable alternative employment.

However, if the assessment does not identify a risk and you remain concerned, you may wish to discuss the matter with your doctor or we may refer to RoS' occupational health adviser for advice.

Once your baby is born, if you wish to continue to breastfeed when you come back to work you will, (wherever practicable), be allowed;

  • paid time off for the purposes of expressing breast milk; and/or
  • unpaid time off during normal working hours to breastfeed your baby who is being cared for in a location within close proximity to your work location.

These elements will be granted until your child is 1 year old.

Sickness absence

If you are absent from work during pregnancy owing to sickness, you will receive normal sick pay in the same manner as you would during any other sickness absence provided that you have not yet begun ordinary maternity leave. If, however, you are absent from work due to a pregnancy related illness after the beginning of the fourth week before your expected week of childbirth, your maternity leave will start automatically.

If you are absent from work wholly or partly because of pregnancy during the four weeks before the expected week of childbirth, you must notify RoS in writing of this as soon as reasonably practicable.

Rights during maternity leave

During ordinary maternity leave and additional maternity leave, all terms and conditions of your contract except normal pay will continue. Your salary will be replaced by occupational maternity pay if you are eligible for it. Otherwise you will be paid statutory maternity pay.

This means that, while sums payable by way of salary will cease, all other benefits will remain in place. For example, holiday entitlement will continue to accrue and pension contributions will continue to be paid.

You are encouraged to take any outstanding holiday due before the commencement of maternity leave. You are reminded that holiday should be taken in the year that it is earned.

Contact during maternity leave

Your manager reserves the right to maintain reasonable contact with you during maternity leave. This may be to discuss your plans for return to work, to discuss any special arrangements to be made, or training to be given to ease your return to work, or to update you on developments at work during your absence.

Keeping-in-touch days

You can agree to work for RoS (or to attend training) for up to 10 days during your maternity leave without that work bringing your maternity leave to an end and without loss of a week's statutory maternity pay. These are known as "keeping-in-touch" days. Any work carried out on a day shall constitute a day's work for these purposes.

RoS has no right to require you to carry out any work and you have no right to undertake any work during your maternity leave. Any work undertaken on keeping-in-touch days, is entirely a matter for agreement between you and your line manager.

Returning to work after maternity leave

You may return to work at any time during ordinary maternity leave or additional maternity leave, provided that you give the appropriate notification. Alternatively, you may take your full period of maternity leave entitlement and return to work at the end of this period. If you wish to return before the full period of maternity leave has elapsed, you must give at least eight weeks' notice in writing to your line manager of the date on which you intend to return.

You have the right to resume working in the same job if returning to work from ordinary maternity leave. If you return to work after a period of additional maternity leave, you are entitled to return either to the same job or, if this is not reasonably practicable, to another suitable job that is on terms and conditions not less favourable.

Failure to return to work by the end of maternity leave will be treated as an unauthorised absence unless you are sick and produce a current medical certificate before the end of the maternity leave period.

If you decide during maternity leave that you do not wish to return to work, you should give written notice of resignation to your line manager as soon as possible and in accordance with the terms of your contract of employment.

Transfer of maternity leave

Share parental leave

Shared parental leave is available in relation to babies due on or after 5 April 2015. Shared parental leave enables mothers to commit to ending their maternity leave and pay at a future date, and to share the untaken balance of leave and pay as shared parental leave with their partner.

Shared parental leave must be taken in blocks of at least one week. Individuals can request to take shared parental leave in one continuous block (in which case your line manager is required to accept the request as long as you meet the eligibility and notice requirements), or as a number of discontinuous blocks of leave (in which case you will need line manager agreement).

To be able to take shared parental leave, you and your partner must meet various eligibility requirements and comply with the relevant curtailment, notice and evidence requirements. This includes you (the mother) curtailing your maternity leave.

You should refer to RoS' policy on shared parental leave, where you will find full details of the eligibility requirements, as well as instructions as to how your (the mother's) maternity leave can be curtailed. RoS' policy on shared parental leave sets out the notice periods with which you must comply and what evidence you must provide to your line manager. The policy also contains more details on employees' entitlement to RoS' enhanced shared parental pay scheme.

The mother and the partner should ensure that they are each liaising with their own employer when making requests for shared parental leave.

Additional paternity leave

Additional paternity leave is available in relation to babies due before 5 April 2015 and will be abolished after this date. Fathers or partners wishing to take extra leave to care for their child should refer to the shared parental leave policy. For babies due before 5 April 2015, RoS provides a separate policy on additional paternity leave.