Maternity Leave Policy
Last Updated 3 Jun 2021 in Family Friendly
If you’re having a baby you’ll want to read through the maternity leave policy. Our maternity policy applies to all colleagues, regardless of their length of service.
Key points covered:
The deadline to inform the Society of your pregnancy and the information you need to provide
Your maternity leave entitlement
The maternity pay you’re entitled to
How your benefits will be affected while you’re on maternity leave
Returning to work
About this Policy
The Society understands that having a baby is an important and exciting time for colleagues and wishes to support them by providing clear guidelines of the arrangements during pregnancy, maternity leave and the support available to new mothers returning to work.
This policy applies to all employees (whether employed on a full-time, part-time, fixed term or permanent basis). It does not apply to agency workers or self-employed contractors.
This policy does not form part of any colleague’s contract of employment and we may amend it at any time.
Colleagues may also be eligible to opt into the Shared Parental Leave Scheme which gives colleagues more flexibility to share the leave and pay available in the first year after birth or adopting a child.
Where a colleague is having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement, you or your partner may be eligible for adoption pay/leave, paternity leave/pay and shared parental leave/pay. Please refer to the Adoption Leave Policy and Procedures, the Paternity Leave Policy and the Shared Parental Leave Policy and Procedure for more details.
Who is Responsible for this Policy?
All colleagues are expected to follow the guidelines set out in this policy. Colleagues are encouraged to speak with their line manager in the first instance if they need assistance with this policy.
All managers must treat colleagues fairly and consistently in accordance with this policy. If managers require support or assistance, they should contact the relevant HR advisor.
Pregnant colleagues are advised to notify their line manager as soon as possible so that a Health and Safety Risk Assessment can be undertaken, and a discussion can take place about time off to attend antenatal appointments.
Colleagues must provide written notification of their intention to take maternity leave by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (qualifying week) by submitting a Notice of Maternity Leave Form (form ML1), to their line manager, payroll and to MaternityPaternity@midcounties.coop.
A copy of the MAT B1 form provided to you from your doctor or midwife (at around 21 weeks of pregnancy) should also be submitted.
Health and Safety
Upon notifying the Society about the pregnancy, you and your line manager will carry out a Health and Safety Risk Assessment for New and Expectant Mothers’ (ML/2). This is an opportunity to identify any preventive and protective measures that the Society needs to take. The Society will take such steps as necessary to avoid any risks identified affecting your health and safety as a new or expectant mother, or that of your baby.
Time off During Pregnancy
Periods of pregnancy-related sickness absence will be paid in accordance with your contract of employment.
If you are absent for a pregnancy related reason during the four weeks before your expected week of childbirth, your maternity leave will usually start automatically.
Pre-Pregnancy and Antenatal Care
As an expectant mother you are entitled to reasonable time off during working hours for antenatal care, if it is not possible to arrange these outside of your normal working hours. Colleagues should give their line manager as much notice as possible and make every effort to arrange such appointments at a time that will cause the least disruption to work. Colleagues may be required to present an appointment card or other documentation to confirm your appointment.
The Society is keen to support families undergoing fertility treatment by giving colleagues reasonable time off during working hours to attend appointments, if it is not possible to arrange these outside of your normal working hours. Colleagues should give their line manager as much notice as possible, and make every effort to arrange such appointments at a time that will cause the least disruption to work. Colleagues may be required to present an appointment card or other documentation to confirm your appointment.
Maternity Leave Period
Colleagues are entitled to up to 52 weeks maternity leave which is divided into:
Ordinary maternity leave of 26 weeks
Additional maternity leave of a further 26 weeks immediately following ordinary maternity leave.
The earliest date you can start maternity leave is the beginning of the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth.
Maternity leave will start automatically where a colleague is absent from work, wholly or partly due to a pregnancy-related illness after the beginning of the fourth week before the expected week of childbirth, or if a colleague gives birth before their maternity leave was due to start. In such circumstances, colleagues should notify their manager of this in writing, and should provide copies of the appropriate medical documentation.
The dates for maternity leave can be brought forward or delayed by giving the line manager at least 28 days’ written notice before the new start date.
The law prohibits you from working during the two weeks following childbirth.
In the unfortunate event of miscarriage or still birth, statutory maternity leave/pay may still be payable where the still birth or miscarriage occurs after the 24th week of pregnancy. The Society is keen to support any parents in this position, so colleagues affected by a still birth should speak to their line manager or their HR advisor as soon as they feel able to do so.
Statutory maternity pay (SMP) is payable for up to 39 weeks. You are entitled to SMP if:
Colleagues have more than 26 weeks’ continuous service by the qualifying week.
Colleagues average weekly earnings during the eight weeks ending with the qualifying week are not less than the lower earnings limit set by the government:
If colleagues are not entitled to SMP, they may be entitled to maternity allowance (MA). Such colleagues are still entitled to up to 52 weeks unpaid maternity leave as outlined above.
For those colleagues who qualify for SMP, it will be made up of:
The first 6 weeks’ pay at 90% of average earnings before tax; and
Up to 33 weeks at the published SMP rate (currently £156.66 per week in April 2022) or 90% of average weekly earnings if this is less than £156.66 per week.
Income tax and national insurance is payable on SMP earnings, and it is payable whether the colleague intends on returning to work or not. SMP is payable on the Society’s published four weekly pay dates.
If a colleague becomes eligible for a pay rise either during maternity leave or within a period where pay has been used to calculate SMP entitlements, the Society will retrospectively apply the pay rules to ensure that the colleague receives the benefit for SMP purposes.
Colleagues who leave the Society for any reason after the start of the qualifying week are still eligible for SMP.
Terms and Conditions and Benefits During Maternity Leave
Apart from any conditions relating to salary and pay, all your other contractual terms and conditions will continue during shared maternity leave. However, salary will be replaced by SMP (if eligible), and you will be paid via payroll as usual.
Colleagues will continue to accrue annual leave during their maternity leave, and will need to make arrangements with their manager to take leave in accordance with normal procedures. Colleagues should make arrangements with their line manager to take their full contractual holiday entitlement for the holiday year, wherever possible, prior to commencing maternity leave, or between their return to work and the end of the holiday year. Where this is not possible, colleagues on maternity leave are able to carry over their unused holiday entitlement to the next holiday year. This should be agreed with the line manager prior to the maternity leave commencing. For further information regarding carrying over annual leave entitlement, colleagues should refer to the Society’s Annual Leave Policy.
For details of how pension is treated during maternity leave please contact the pensions office on 01926 516009.
Keeping in Touch (KIT)
We may make reasonable contact with a colleague from time to time during their maternity leave, although we will keep this to a minimum. This may include contacting the colleague to discuss arrangements for their return to work.
A colleague may, with the agreement of their line manager, carry out up to 10 days’ work during their maternity leave without bringing the maternity leave to an end. In accordance with legislation, any work carried out for part of a day shall constitute a full day’s work for the purposes of pay and KIT day entitlement.
Work undertaken on a KIT day may include training, attending meetings and committees or any activity undertaken for the purposes of “keeping in touch” with the workplace.
It should be noted however, that this provision does not confer any right on the Society to require any work to be carried out during the statutory maternity leave period, nor any right on the colleagues to request work during this period. Also, there is no obligation on either the society or the colleague to make use of these days.
Returning to Work
If a colleague intends to return to work at the end of their full maternity leave period entitlement, she is not required to give notice of their return.
If a colleague wants to return earlier than a date previously specified she should do this by submitting an Intention to Return Work Form (form ML3) with eight weeks’ notice, to your line manager, payroll and the Society’s HR operations maternity/paternity coordinator. Colleagues who return to work within 6 months of giving birth are required to complete a Health and Safety Risk Assessment for New and Expected Mother’s Form (form ML2). A copy of the completed form should be sent to MaternityPaternity@midcounties.coop.
If a colleague wants to return to work later than the expected return date (assuming they still have unused maternity leave entitlement), she should do this by submitting an Intention to return to work form (form ML3) with eight weeks’ notice, to their line manager, payroll and to MaternityPaternity@midcounties.coop. However if a colleague would like additional leave at the end of their full maternity leave period entitlement a colleague may request paid additional leave in accordance with their contract or request ordinary parental leave (see our Parental Leave Policy), subject to the needs of the Society.
If a colleague does not intend to return to work, or are unsure, it is helpful if they discuss this as early as possible with their line manager or relevant HR advisor. If a colleague decides not to return they should give notice of resignation in accordance with their contract.
If a colleague wants to change their hours or other working arrangements on return from maternity leave they should make a request under our Flexible Working Policy. It is helpful if such requests are made as early as possible.
All colleagues have a statutory right to short periods of unpaid leave in order to make arrangements to deal with family emergencies. Colleagues should refer to the Emergency Leave Policy.
At the end of the maternity leave period, the colleague has the right to return to the same job as before, or if not practicable, to as similar job as possible with the same or better status and terms and conditions.
The Society is committed to support any colleagues who wish to breastfeed or express milk following their return to work. The Society will ensure that appropriate facilities are made available to colleagues who require them, wherever possible.
Colleagues should inform their line manager of their intention to breastfeed or express milk on Society premises when they notify their Manager of their return to work, this is so that a risk assessment can be carried out, using the Health and Safety Risk Assessment for New and Expected Mother’s Form (form ML2). A copy of the completed form should be sent to MaternityPaternity@midcounties.coop.
When exploring how the Society can support breastfeeding in the workplace, colleagues are asked to speak to their line manager in the first instance, or alternatively contact their HR advisor for your business group.
If colleagues have any questions regarding this policy or require additional support, you should speak to your line manager. Alternatively, you can contact the HR advisor for your business group, contact the HR advice line on 01926 516469 or email MaternityPaternity@midcounties.coop.