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Maternity leave

The University is committed to supporting employees to understand the choices available to them to support the birth of a child.  All pregnant employees are entitled to 52 weeks leave, regardless of service.  Employees should read the Maternity Leave Policy and FAQs to understand the actions they need to take to notify the University of their pregnancy, to ensure a Risk Assessment is undertaken and to understand the benefits they will receive.

FAQs

Here you will find important and useful information to help you plan your maternity leave.  If you have any further questions, please refer to the Maternity Leave Policy or email Human Resources.

Am I entitled to maternity leave?

All expectant/birth mothers, including those working in the UK on a visa, are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave.  A minimum of 2 weeks leave must be taken immediately after the baby is born.   

What maternity pay will I receive?

The pay you receive depends on your length of service and whether you will be returning to work following your maternity leave.

You are entitled to the University’s enhanced maternity pay if you have been continuously employed by the University for 26 weeks at the beginning of 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC), and will be returning to work for a period of at least 3 months.  This includes surrogate mothers.  The package includes 16 weeks of full salary, 23 weeks at the statutory maternity pay rate per week (or 90% of your gross average weekly earnings if this is less than this), and 13 weeks unpaid.  If you do not return to work for the three-month period, then you will normally be required to repay the enhanced element of any maternity pay received. 

If you have 26 weeks service at the beginning of the 15th week before the EWC and you are not returning to work after your maternity leave, you are only entitled to statutory maternity pay

Employees with less than 26 weeks continuous service at the 15th week before the EWC may be eligible for Maternity Allowance through the Department of Work and Pensions.  Employees will be advised on how to claim this once the maternity form is submitted.    

How and when do I apply for maternity leave?

It is advised that you inform your manager of your pregnancy as early as possible.  This helps the University ensure you are fully supported in terms of your health, safety and wellbeing. 

Although early notification is encouraged, you must submit the Maternity Leave Notification Form by the end of the 15th week before your baby is due.  You must also submit a copy (scan or photo), both sides, of your MATB1, via the HR Self Service portal.  Human Resources will confirm your maternity leave dates in writing, no later than 28 days after receiving your completed notification form.

If you would like to speak to Human Resources before you inform your line manager, you can speak in confidence to your HR Business Partner or email HR Support and Advice

When can I start my maternity leave?

Any date after the 11th week before your expected week of childbirth (EWC).  The latest date you can start would normally be the date stipulated on your MATB1.  Maternity leave must be taken in full, 7-day weeks.  Please refer to the Maternity Calculator (please note: VPN is required for access to the Calculator).

If you are off work as a result of a pregnancy related illness in the 4 weeks prior to your EWC, then your maternity leave will commence on the first day of your absence.  

If your baby is born before your maternity leave start date, your maternity leave will be adjusted to commence on the date following the birth.  You must notify Human Resources within 2 weeks of the birth. 

Do I have to complete any health and safety forms or training?

Yes.  Staff are legally required to cooperate with their employer with Health and Safety matters and the University has a legal obligation to provide training and risk assessments in hazardous situations (if we know about your pregnancy). 

Once you have informed your line manager of your pregnancy, in line with Environmental Health and Safety Services (EHSS) guidance, you must enrol on the Expectant and New Mothers training course via the online EssentialSkillz Programme and complete the accompanying Risk Assessment.  Any concerns raised will be elevated to your School/Unit for further action. 

What happens to my annual leave before, during and after my maternity leave?

You should ensure that you have taken all the annual leave you have accrued since the beginning of the leave year (1 August) before starting your maternity leave.  You will not normally be allowed to carry these holidays forward.

You will continue to accrue annual leave whilst on your maternity leave.  The amount accrued will depend on the length of your maternity leave.  You can use your accrued annual leave directly after your maternity leave.  You should inform your line manager as soon as possible and at least 8 weeks before your maternity leave ends. 

Further information on annual leave can be found in the Annual Leave Policy.

What are Keeping in Touch (KIT) days?

KIT days allow employees to attend work during maternity leave and can be used to keep up to date with projects, attend training and events or other reasons that are beneficial.  KIT days are not compulsory and must be agreed in advance with your line manager.    

You can choose to be paid for the KIT day or take this as time off in lieu.  You will only receive payment/time off for the hours actually worked but it will be counted as one KIT day.   

Payment for KIT days cannot exceed full pay, inclusive of maternity pay.  If you work a KIT day during the period of full pay, you will receive no additional payment, if you use a KIT day during the statutory maternity pay period, your pay will be increased to your normal rate of pay, inclusive of SMP.  If you use a KIT day during the unpaid period or you do not qualify for maternity pay, your normal rate of pay will be processed.

Once you have completed a KIT day, you should complete a form via HR Self Service, which must be authorised by the line manager.  Payment will be made on the first pay date after Salaries receive the form; provided it is received by the relevant salary cut off date.

Additional FAQs for employees

Am I allowed to take paid time off for antenatal appointments? 

Yes. You can take reasonable paid time off to attend antenatal appointments, regardless of length of service.  This can cover pregnancy related medical appointments or parenting classes made on the advice of a medical practitioner, registered health visitor or registered midwife.  Your line manager may ask to see your appointment card. 

 What happens if my pregnancy does not go to plan?  

There is no distinction between live and still births after 24 weeks of pregnancy for the purposes of maternity leave and pay. 

Am I allowed to come back to work part-time?

You do not have an automatic right to return to work part-time, but you are entitled to ask.  You should discuss this your line manager as early as possible.  Your manager does not have to agree to the request if it does not suit business needs.  Any change in your contracted hours could be permanent and you do not have a right to revert to full time hours in the future.  The Flexible Working Policy provides further information about this process. 

What happens if my fixed term contract end date is during my maternity leave? 

Your employment will still end but you will continue to receive maternity pay.  If you are in receipt of the University’s enhanced maternity pay package, you will not be expected to repay the enhanced element. 

Fixed term contracts are not automatically extended in line with the period of maternity leave.  If a fixed term contract ends during maternity leave the normal redundancy process should be followed.  If your line manager wishes to extend your contract, they should discuss this with Human Resources and the Finance and Support Team (for external funding).  

What happens if I decide that I don’t want to return to work? 

You should inform your line manager and Human Resources as soon as you have decided.  You will normally be required to repay the enhanced element of any maternity pay received.  

Does the University provide breastfeeding facilities?

Yes.  Your School/Unit should endeavour to find a quiet, private space for you to express and store breast milk or if reasonably practical allow you to change your working hours to accommodate breastfeeding.  

My partner is expecting a baby, am I entitled to paternity leave?

All employees are eligible for two weeks paternity leave, providing they meet the conditions specified within the paternity leave policy. Please refer to the Paternity Leave Policy for more information

When can I start my maternity leave?

Any date after the 11th week before your expected week of childbirth (EWC).  The latest date you can start would normally be the date stipulated on your MATB1.

If you are off work as a result of a pregnancy related illness in the 4 weeks prior to your EWC, then your maternity leave will commence on the first day of your absence.  

If your baby is born before your maternity leave start date, your maternity leave will be adjusted to commence on the date following the birth.  You must notify Human Resources within 2 weeks of the birth.

What happens to my pension contributions while I’m on maternity leave?

Your membership of either USS, S&LAS or NOW: Pensions will be maintained during the duration of your paid maternity leave.  If you are a member of USS or S&LAS and you take 9 month paid maternity leave and 3 months unpaid maternity leave, then your contributions stop after the paid maternity leave until you return to work.  Once you have returned, the Pensions Administrator will contact you detailing the shortfall in contributions during this period and give you an option to maintain your contributions.  Employer contributions missed as a result of any unpaid leave will only be paid over if you elect to maintain your employee contributions after a period of nil pay.

Employees will benefit from salary sacrifice if they are receiving full pay from the University, unless it is not beneficial to them.  Where employees are receiving statutory pay only (i.e. after enhanced family friendly pay or enhanced sickness pay ceases), pension contributions will become a deduction rather than a salary sacrifice.  Once the employee goes back onto full pay, they will move back into the salary sacrifice scheme.

If you have any questions about your pension, please contact our Pensions Administrator.

FAQs for Heads of School or Unit and Line Managers

Who can take maternity leave? 

All expectant/birth mothers, including those working in the UK on a visa, are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave.  A minimum of 2 weeks leave must be taken immediately after the baby is born    

Do I have to complete any forms? 

When an employee informs their line manager of the pregnancy, the employee must submit a maternity leave notification form via HR Self Service.  The line manager will receive an electronic copy of the form via HR Self Service and will be asked to acknowledge/sign off before it is sent on to Human Resources.  The line manager should also inform the Head of School/Unit.  

 Line managers and Human Resources should be informed of the maternity leave no later than the 15th week before the baby is due.  

Do any Health and Safety forms have to be completed? 

Yes.  Pregnant employees must enrol for the Expectant and New Mothers training course and complete the accompanying Risk Assessment.  Any concerns raised in the risk assessment will be elevated to the School/Unit’s EssentialSkillz administrators e.g. Health and Safety Coordinator for further action.  More information is available from EHSS.

How are maternity leave costs covered?

For internally funded posts, maternity costs are charged to the School/Unit’s salaries budget.  

 If a post is externally funded, Human Resources will check with the Finance and Support Team whether the grant covers the costs of the maternity leave.  If it does not, these will be paid by the School/Unit salary budget.  

Who does the work whilst the member of staff is on maternity leave? 

A post may be covered by existing colleagues or by recruiting a temporary replacement, depending on business needs.  When determining the length of a cover post, you should consider any annual leave the employee may wish to use directly after their maternity leave.  Employees continue to accrue annual leave during their maternity leave, in line with the Annual Leave Policy.  Requests for like for like maternity cover should be sent to the Director of HR. 

Are the entitlements the same if employees are on fixed term contracts? 

Employees on fixed term contracts are entitled to maternity leave and pay.  If a contract expires during maternity leave and the employee has enough qualifying service then they will be entitled to maternity pay.  Non-renewal of a fixed-term contract due to pregnancy is discriminatory.  

 Fixed term contracts are not automatically extended in line with the period of maternity leave.  If a fixed term contract ends during maternity leave the normal redundancy process should be followed.  If you wish to extend a contract, you should discuss this with Human Resources, or the Finance and Support Team (for external funding).  

Am I allowed to contact a member of staff on maternity leave? 

Yes. A manager may make reasonable contact with an individual on maternity leave.   

Can I ask an employee to work whilst on maternity leave? 

An employee can work during maternity leave by using keeping in touch (KIT) days, of which there are 10 in any maternity period. There is no obligation on an employee to work these days.   

 Employees can choose to be paid for the KIT day or take this as time off in lieu.  Employees will only receive payment/time off for actual hours worked, but a full KIT day will be used.  Where payment is due, the employee should complete a KIT day form via Self Service.  Please note that an employee cannot receive more than a normal day pay i.e. if the work is undertaken when on full maternity pay, they will not receive an additional payment for any hours worked.      

Is there anything I should be aware of following an employee’s return to work? 

Managers should be aware that changes may have taken place during an employee’s maternity leave and should therefore ensure that the employee feels welcomed and updated accordingly on their return.  An employee on maternity leave has the right to the same job, or if not reasonably practicable a similar job, on the same terms and conditions that they held prior to going on maternity leave.  Any problems should be discussed with your Human Resources Business Partner.  

I’ve received a request for breastfeeding facilities – what should I do? 

The School/Unit should endeavour to find a quiet, private space for the employee to express and store breast milk or if reasonably practical allow the employee to change their working hours to accommodate breastfeeding.  

Do I have to agree to a flexible working request or change of  hours? 

An employee returning from maternity leave has the right to request to work flexibly and while efforts should be made to accommodate this, it may not always support business needs.  In such instances, you do not need to agree to the request but must inform the employee why the request is being turned down.  For further information please read the University’s Flexible Working Policy or contact Human Resources.  

Additional support

Useful internal support

Occupational Health
Pensions
Expectant and breastfeeding mothers

Useful external support

Local nurseries
Tax Free Childcare
Breastfeeding and returning to work
Statutory UK Gov calculator
Alcohol & Pregnancy leaflet - AFS.pdf

EHRC Equality Act (2010) protected characteristic definition:

Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant or expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth, and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context. In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth, and this includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.

Contact

Human Resources
Email: hr.support@st-andrews.ac.uk

Maternity leave documents

Maternity Leave Notification and Keeping In Touch forms can be found in the HR Self-Service under "Family Leave"

- Maternity leave calculator
Please note: VPN is required for access.

- Risk assessment (Essential Skillz)

Relevant/supporting policies

- Maternity Leave Policy
- Paternity Leave Policy
- Shared Parental Leave Policy
- Adoption Leave Policy
- Special Leave Policy
- Flexible working
- Sickness absence policy