Maternity Leave

INTRODUCTION

  1. The College recognises the need for effective policies, which play a
    key part in supporting an appropriate life-work balance. Such policies
    are intended to: allow a more effective combination of home and work
    responsibilities; enhance equality of opportunity at work and retain
    skilled and valued employees.
    SCOPE
  2. This scheme describes maternity rights, entitlements and obligations
    for all employees at the College. Employees are also encouraged to
    refer to other related policies such as: parental leave, paternity leave,
    flexible working, and special leave.
  3. The College has an obligation to pay Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
    on behalf of the Benefits Agency to all employees who are eligible to
    receive it. This scheme explains entitlements to both statutory and
    contractual maternity benefits.
    ORDINARY MATERNITY LEAVE (OML)
  4. All employees, regardless of length of service and number of hours
    worked, have the right to a statutory minimum of 26 weeks’ maternity
    leave. Employees’ maternity leave period must include the 2 weeks
    immediately after childbirth. This is the compulsory maternity leave
    period.
    ADDITIONAL MATERNITY LEAVE (AML)
  5. All employees have the right to take additional maternity leave (AML)
    of up to 26 weeks following on from the OML.
    GIVING NOTICE TO START MATERNITY LEAVE
  6. An employee, who wishes to take maternity leave or AML, must give
    the College notice, by the 15th week before the Expected Week of
    Childbirth (EWC), of the following:
    a) That she is pregnant;
    b) If requested, she should produce a certificate from a GP or
    registered midwife (form MAT B1);
    c) The expected date of childbirth;
    d) The date on which she wishes to start her maternity leave.
  7. If it is not reasonably practicable for the employee to give notice by
    the 15th week before the EWC, then she must provide the information
    as soon as is reasonably practicable.
  8. The employee may decide when she wishes to start her maternity
    leave, and she may start at any time after the beginning of the 11th
    week before the week in which childbirth is expected. However, if she
    is absent from work with a pregnancy-related illness during the last
    four weeks before her EWC, her maternity leave may start
    immediately.
  9. Where childbirth occurs before the notified leave date or before she
    has notified such a date, she should notify the College that she has
    given birth as soon as is reasonably practicable after the birth.
  10. The employee may vary the start date of her maternity in consultation
    and agreement with the College. However, the employee has the
    right to change when she wants to start her leave providing she
    writes to the College at least 28 days in advance of the intended
    leave.
    THE RIGHT TO RETURN TO WORK AFTER MATERNITY LEAVE
    Ordinary Maternity Leave
  11. An employee who wishes to return to work at the end of 26 weeks
    OML period, is entitled to return to the same job that she left.
  12. If returning from ordinary maternity leave, notification of return to work
    is not necessary, unless the employee wishes to return early.
    Additional Maternity Leave
  13. An employee, who wishes to return to work following AML, has the
    right to return at any time up until the end of the 26 weeks following
    the ordinary maternity leave. She has the right to return to the same
    or similar job, with comparable terms and conditions of employment,
    seniority and pension rights.
  14. An employee who is unable to return to work at the end of her
    maternity leave due to illness, will be subject to the normal sick leave
    and pay policy, and will receive sick pay according to her contract.
  15. If the employee wishes to change her return-to-work date, she must
    provide the College with 8 weeks notice. This is applicable during
    both OML and AML.
  16. If the employee’s job becomes redundant during the course of her
    maternity leave, the College will offer her any other suitable
    alternative work that becomes available. She will have the right to be
    considered for such work, even though she is on maternity leave. The
    offer will be made before her previous employment ends and the new
    employment will commence immediately. It must involve suitable
    work and the terms and conditions will not be less favourable than the
    old contract. If there is no work available, then she will be made
    redundant, and receive redundancy pay in line with her statutory and
    contractual entitlements.
  17. If industrial action or any other interruption of work makes it
    unreasonable for the employee to return to work on the date she has
    specified, she may instead return when work resumes.
  18. An employee returning from maternity leave is eligible to make a
    request to work flexibly. Please see the College policy on flexible
    working.
    MATERNITY PAY
    Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
  19. An employee will be eligible to receive statutory maternity pay (SMP)
    if she satisfies the following criteria:
    a) She must have been employed by the College for at least 26
    weeks continuing into the 15th week before the expected week of
    childbirth; and
    b) She must be earning an amount equivalent to at least the lower
    earnings limit for National Insurance contributions; and
    c) She must still be pregnant at the 11th week before the expected
    week of childbirth; and
    d) She must have stopped work wholly or partly because of her
    pregnancy, or her confinement.
  20. Payment during maternity leave will be as below. This example
    covers the entire 52 week entitlement; however employees can
    choose to take less leave:
    26 weeks Ordinary Maternity Leave:
     Weeks 1 to 4 – full pay (90% of normal weekly earnings, i.e. SMP
    – Statutory Maternity Pay + 10% Contractual Maternity Pay).
     Weeks 5 to 6 – 90% of normal weekly earnings.
     Weeks 7 to 18 – lower rate* SMP plus half pay.
     Weeks 19 to 26 – lower rate* SMP.
    26 weeks Additional Maternity Leave:
     Weeks 27 to 39 – lower rate* SMP
     Weeks 40 to 52 – unpaid.
  21. Not all employees will be eligible for SMP, in which case they should
    apply to the Benefits Agency to see whether they may be entitled to
    Maternity Allowance. An application form will be provided by the
    College.
    Contractual Maternity Pay (CMP)
  22. Contractual maternity pay is paid in addition to SMP, and is paid at
    the rate of 1/10 of full salary for the first four weeks of maternity leave
    and half-pay plus SMP for the first 12 weeks of the lower rate
    statutory maternity pay period. This is subject to the combined SMP
    and contractual maternity pay not exceeding the normal full pay.
  23. Any employee who does not return to work following OML or AML will
    not be required to repay the contractual maternity pay.
    Pensions Contributions
  24. An employee in receipt of remuneration, whether salary or SMP or
    both, will be treated as though she is working normally for the
    purposes of access to occupational pension scheme membership
    and benefits. The College will pay the normal contribution towards the
    pension scheme for the period of ordinary maternity leave. The
    employee is only required to pay contributions on the amount of
    actual remuneration or SMP she receives.
  25. Employees who wish to continue contributions during this period of
    unpaid maternity leave should contact the pension authority to obtain
    the appropriate advice on how to do so.
    Early Births
  26. If the baby is born early but after the employee has started to receive
    SMP, SMP will continue to be paid. If the employee has not yet
    started to receive SMP, it will be triggered. For the purpose of
    calculating the return to work this will be done using the actual week
    of birth as the starting point.
    Late Births
  27. If the baby is born after the expected week of confinement, SMP is
    not affected and OML and AML will continue as originally agreed.
    Stillbirths
  28. In the unfortunate event of a stillbirth, the employee continues to be
    entitled to SMP, if the child is born after the 24th week of pregnancy.
    She will also be entitled to the maternity leave period. In the event of
    a miscarriage during or before the 24th week of pregnancy, provisions
    and regulations of the sick pay scheme will apply.
    CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH SMP IS LOST
  29. An employee will lose her right to receive SMP if:
    a) She goes abroad outside of the European Community.
    b) She is taken into legal custody.
    c) She starts work for another employer.
    d) She returns to work outside of the arrangement outlined in
    paragraph 38.
    TIME OFF FOR ANTE-NATAL CARE
  30. An employee is entitled to take paid time off for antenatal care
    appointments. Evidence of appointments must be provided to the
    manager upon request.
  31. The College will consider reasonable requests for time off for parental
    classes.
    PROTECTION OF NEW AND EXPECTANT MOTHERS
  32. The College is committed to creating and maintaining a healthy and
    safe working environment. This is particularly important in relation to
    the safety of new and expectant mothers. As part of normal health
    and safety practices the College will undertake the following in order
    to create a healthy workplace for new and expectant mothers:
  33. Work areas will be risk assessed to take account of particular risks to
    new and expectant mothers. This will be carried out as soon as
    possible after notification of pregnancy, and again upon the
    employee’s return to work.
  34. Employees will have the right to transfer from hazardous work areas,
    or hazardous work, without loss of pay or status, to suitable
    alternative work and/ or to alter their hours / work conditions if
    suitable actions can not be identified to avoid an assessed risk.
  35. In the interests of ensuring that expectant mothers are not working in
    conditions which are deemed as unsafe, and where the College has
    been unable to find suitable alternative work then the College will
    temporarily suspend the employee on full contractual pay. Such a
    decision will be based on the available medical advice and the
    outcome of the risk assessment carried out.
  36. Suitable, smoke-free accommodation will be provided for expectant
    and new mothers to allow for rest periods, as appropriate.
  37. Health and Safety management will be undertaken in accordance
    with The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
    WORKING DURING MATERNITY LEAVE – “KEEPING IN TOUCH DAYS”
  38. Employees may do up to 10 days’ work during their maternity leave
    period. Work during maternity leave in the form of “Keeping in
    Touch” (KIT) days may only take place by agreement between both
    manager and employee. An employee does not have a right to work
    KIT days if her manager does not agree to them, nor can a manager
    require an employee to work during maternity leave if she does not
    wish to.
  39. Working for part of a day will count as one KIT day.
  40. For the KIT days worked, employees will be entitled to take an
    equivalent amount as time off in lieu at the end of their maternity
    leave.
  41. The type of work that is undertaken by the employee on KIT days is a
    matter for agreement between the employee and her manager. KIT
    days may be used for any activity which would ordinarily be classed
    as work under the employee’s contract, for which she would be paid.
  42. KIT days may be used at any stage during the maternity leave period,
    by agreement with the manager, with the following exception: they
    cannot be used during the first two weeks after the baby is born.
    GENERAL ISSUES
  43. Maternity leave is not sick leave, and will not be taken into account
    when calculating any period of sick leave entitlement.
  44. During the maternity leave period, the contract continues to run. Any
    salary increases awarded to other staff will also apply.
  45. Annual leave will continue to accrue at the contractual rate
    throughout both OML and AML.
  46. Any employee who is unable to return to work at the end of their
    maternity leave period due to illness, will be treated as if they were on
    sick leave, and will therefore be entitled to sick pay.
  47. Periods of maternity leave and maternity absence are regarded as
    continuous service for the purpose of calculating entitlements to
    employment benefits.
  48. If in the early months of pregnancy, an employee is advised by an
    approved medical practitioner to absent herself from work because of
    the risk of rubella, she will be entitled to leave with full pay.
  49. Employees are protected from unfair treatment due to pregnancy,
    childbirth or taking maternity leave.
  50. This scheme will be reviewed on a regular basis in accordance with
    legislative developments and the need for good practice within the
    College.