Maternity leave scheme
Statutory rights in accordance with the Employment Act 2006 came into force for babies due on or after 30 September 2007.
Last updated: 1 September 2015
1. Maternity provisions
1.1 In accordance with and in addition to statutory provision, the National Council’s scheme provides separate maternity provisions for:
- Female workers employed with more than two years’ continuous local government service, and
- Female workers who do not qualify under (i) with at least one year’s continuous local government service
- Female workers who do not qualify under (i) or (ii)
1.2 Female workers continue to be employed by the Authority whilst on maternity leave
2. Antenatal care
2.1 All pregnant employees are entitled to time off to keep appointments for ante-natal care made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner or registered midwife. For her first appointment, the employee must be prepared to show on request:
- A certificate from a registered medical practitioner or registered midwife confirming that she is pregnant and
- An appointment card or some other document showing that an appointment has been made
2.2 The employee will be paid at her normal hourly rate of pay during the period of time off.
3. Maternity leave
3.1 Every pregnant employee is entitled to at least 26 weeks Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML), regardless of length of service. The contract of employment continues during OML. During her OML period the employee will continue to receive all her contractual benefits other than salary or wages. Maternity pay is detailed in paragraph 9 - Maternity pay - below.
3.2 An employee who has completed 26 weeks’ continuous employment by the beginning of the 14th week before the expected week of childbirth is entitled to 26 weeks Additional Maternity Leave (AML). AML begins at the end of OML. Some terms of the contract continue during AML.
3.3 In order to take advantage of the right to OML and AML (if qualified) the employee must give the proper notification (see paragraph 4 - Notice periods).
4. Notice periods
4.1 No later than the end of the 15th week before her expected week of childbirth (or as soon as is reasonably practicable) the employee must complete the Statement of Intention (see Annex A - Statement of intention and undertaking to repay payment) notifying the employer of:
- The expected date of childbirth
- The intended date of finishing work and OML commencing (which shall not be earlier than beginning of 11th week before expected week of childbirth) The employee can vary the date that maternity leave will start provided that notice in writing is given at least 28 days prior to the new date commencing (or as soon as is reasonably practicable).
4.2 The employer will ensure that, within 28 days of receiving appropriate notice, the employee is advised of the date the maternity leave period will end (see model letter at Annex B - Model letter to acknowledge notification of maternity leave). If the employer is entitled to AML, the end date will be calculated on the assumption that she is taking it.
4.3 If the employee changes the date her leave will start, the employer must notify her of the amended end date within 28 days of the start of her leave.
4.4 An employee who intends to return to work earlier than the end of her maternity leave period, shall give her employer not less than 28 days’ notice of the date on which she intends to return. Where an employee qualifies for AML, but only wishes to take OML, she must give 28 days’ notice of her return to work. Should such notice not be given, the return date may be postponed by the employer to allow for the appropriate 28 days notice (but not to a date later than the end of her OML or AML).
4.5 If because of an interruption of work (whether due to industrial action or some other reason) it is unreasonable to expect the employee to return on the notified day, she may instead return when work resumes, or as soon as reasonably practicable thereafter.
4.6 An employee must give the normal notice (see Article 27) if she does not intend to return to work after her maternity leave.
5. Statement of intention
5.1 An employee who is pregnant should advise her employer and complete the Statement of Intention as soon as possible and no later than 15 weeks before the expected date of childbirth (or as soon as is reasonably practicable).
On receipt of the completed form the employer should:
- retain a copy
- send a copy to the appropriate Pay Section
- send a copy to the Office of Human Resources (as appropriate)
- arrange for a letter of confirmation to be issued to the employee within 28 days of receipt of her notification (see model letter)
5.2 The appropriate Pay Section and Public Service Pensions Authority should also be notified of any unpaid leave taken by the employee.
a) Definition of ‘Childbirth’
‘Childbirth’ for the purposes of these Regulations is defined as the birth of a living child or the birth of a child whether living or not after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
b) Definition of ‘Expected week of Childbirth’
The week, beginning at midnight between Saturday and Sunday, in which it is expected that the baby will be born.
c) Definition of ‘A Week’s Pay’
Normal weekly wage is defined in Appendix 3, Section 7(A) paragraph 7, in addition:
- For a bonus earner (contractual), a sum equal to average bonus earnings, this to be determined by reference to the average bonus earned per hour over the preceding three months or any other period agreed locally.
7. Premature birth
7.1 In the event of premature birth (even if this is before the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth) maternity leave will start on the day after the birth and all the normal provisions of the scheme will apply. Qualifying period for AML will still be calculated based on the expected week of childbirth.
8. Still birth or death of a baby
8.1 In the unfortunate event of still birth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or the death of the baby shortly after birth, the employee will still be entitled to the maternity provisions for which she is eligible, specifically Maternity Leave and Maternity Pay.
9. Maternity pay
9.1 There is no statutory requirement to pay an employee whilst on maternity leave; however details of contractual pay are detailed in 9.3 below.
9.2 A qualifying condition for entitlement to maternity pay is that an employee returns to work for a period of at least three months. This requirement may be varied at the discretion of the Authority on good cause being shown.
9.3 An employee who is entitled to maternity leave (as set out in 3.2) and has attained the relevant length of continuous service by the beginning of the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth will also be entitled to maternity pay as follows:
|Length of service||Pay coverage|
|At least 1 year continuous service||
6 weeks at nine-tenths of a week's pay (less if employee is not eligible for Department of Health and Social Care Maternity Allowance (MA))
followed by 12 weeks at half a week's pay (without deduction unless combined pay and MA or any dependent's allowances exceeds full pay)
|More than 2 years continuous service||
6 weeks at nine-tenths of a week's pay (less if employee is not eligible for Department of Health and Social Care Maternity Allowance (MA))
(the first 6 weeks is payable whether or not the employee returns to work following maternity leave - see 11.1 Repayment of maternity pay - below)
followed by 12 weeks at half a week's pay (without deductions unless combined pay and MA or any dependent's allowances exceeds full pay)
10. Maternity allowance
10.1 Employees may be eligible to claim maternity allowance from the Social Security Division of the Treasury. Where this is granted during the first 6 weeks of maternity pay, the allowance will be offset against pay. No allowance will be deducted during periods of half pay.
10.2 Employees who have completed the ‘Option to Draw Unabated Sick/Maternity/Adoption/Paternity Pay’ form at Annex C will have maternity pay made in the first 6 weeks of maternity leave in accordance with 9.3 above, as they have agreed not to claim maternity allowance in that option.
11. Repayment of Maternity Pay
11.1 If an employee, with less than 2 years’ continuous service at the time maternity leave commences, does not return to work on or before the end of her entitlement to maternity leave and complete at least 13 weeks paid service she may be required to repay all pay paid to her during the period of maternity leave (see 9.3 above). This requirement may be varied at the discretion of the Authority on good cause being shown.
If an employee with more than 2 years’ continuous service at the time maternity leave commences, does not return to work on or before the end of her entitlement to maternity leave and complete at least 13 weeks paid service, she may be required to repay the 12 weeks half pay paid to her during the period of maternity leave. This requirement may be varied at the discretion of the Authority on good cause being shown. The first 6 weeks is payable whether or not the employee returns to work following maternity leave. (See 9.3 above)
11.2 If an employee fails to return to work after maternity leave her last day of service for pay and related purposes will be taken as her last day at work before commencing maternity leave. If she returns, but does not complete 13 weeks' service, normal notice periods will apply.
11.3 Repayment may be waived if the employee provides medical evidence that she will be unable to return to work at the end of the period of maternity leave because the baby is disabled and as a result, requires continuous attention at home. Medical evidence should be sent to the Chief Executive not later than 3 weeks before the maternity leave is due to cease. (See Annex A ‘Statement of Intention and Undertaking to Repay Payment’ Note 2.)
11.4 Repayment may also be waived if the employee provides medical evidence (in respect of herself or her baby) that she is unable to honour her stated intention to return to work at the end of the period of maternity leave. (See Annex A ‘Statement of Intention and Undertaking to Repay Payment’ Note 3.)
11.5 An employee who is required to repay salary or wages received during the period of maternity/adoption leave in accordance with sub-paragraph (d) of Option B will be eligible for the refund of National Insurance Contributions paid in respect of the pay received in this period. (See Annex A ‘Statement of Intention and Undertaking to Repay Payment’ Note 4.)
12. Annual leave
12.1 Contractual annual leave allowance continues to accrue during periods of OML.
12.2 No contractual annual leave allowance will accrue during AML.
12.3 Public and Privilege holidays falling during unpaid leave will be unpaid.
12.4 During periods of unpaid maternity leave when contractual leave does not accrue, statutory leave will accrue (provision for a minimum of 4 weeks paid leave per annum in total, incorporating both contractual and statutory leave). Accrued statutory leave cannot be carried forward into a new leave year.
12.5 Where possible, to avoid the loss of annual leave, an employee should try and take any unused, accrued annual leave, prior to going on maternity leave. The provisions in relation to carrying over leave referred to in Article 17 still apply.
12.6 Should an employee return to work on reduced hours, credits of annual leave accrued prior to and during maternity leave will be proportionate to the contract in force at the time of accrual.
13. Health and safety
13.1 Definition of the term ‘New and Expectant Mothers’
13.1.1 Includes women: who are pregnant, who have given birth within the last 6 months, or who are breastfeeding.
13.2 Suspension from work on Maternity grounds
13.2.1 When assessing risks in the workplace, the employing authority should pay particular attention to risks that could affect the health and safety of new or expectant mothers or their babies. If a risk remains which could damage the health and safety of a new or expectant mother or her baby, the employing authority should make sure she is not exposed to that risk.
13.2.2 If necessary, suitable alternative work may be offered if available. If such alternative work is not available and it is deemed appropriate, the employing authority may consider instigating suspension from work on maternity grounds; this may be prior to commencement of maternity leave, or when maternity leave has expired. Whilst on maternity suspension, an employee will be paid her normal remuneration.
13.2.3 If an employee unreasonably refuses an offer of suitable alternative work, no remuneration will be payable for the period during which the offer applies.
13.3 Risk Assessment
13.3.1 Employing authorities are required to assess risks to the health and safety of new and expectant mothers and their babies, who may be particularly at risk from different physical, biological and chemical agents, processes and working conditions. These risks will vary depending on the employee’s health and at different stages of pregnancy. Assistance in this respect can be sought from the Department’s Health & Safety Adviser, or the Government Health & Safety Adviser.
13.3.2 If an employee believes there is a risk to her health or safety, or to that of her baby, which has not been considered in the risk assessment, she should bring the risk to the attention of her employing authority.
13.3.3 If risks are identified by the assessment, information about them should be given to all women of childbearing age in the workplace. Employers should explain what they will do to make sure that new and expectant mothers are not exposed to the risks that could cause them harm. They should also inform them of the need to receive written notification of pregnancy/ breastfeeding as early as possible.
14. Sick absence during or following pregnancy
14.1 An employee who is absent from work due to illness will normally be able to take sick leave (in accordance with provisions of Appendix 3, Section 7 (A)) until she starts maternity leave on the date notified. If the illness is unrelated to her pregnancy, she can remain on sick leave right up to the date of the baby’s birth, or until the date she has notified as the date on which she intends her maternity leave to start.
14.2 If the illness is pregnancy related, the maternity leave period will start automatically on the day after the first day of absence following the beginning of the 4th week before the expected week of childbirth.
15. Return to work after maternity leave
15.1 An employee who resumes work after OML is entitled to return to the same job on the same terms and conditions as if she had not been absent, unless a redundancy situation has arisen (see paragraph 16 - Redundancy during maternity leave).
15.2 An employee who resumes work after AML is also entitled to return to the same job on the same terms and conditions as if she had not been absent, unless a redundancy situation has arisen; however, if there is some other reason why it is not reasonably practicable for her to return to her original job, she is entitled to be offered suitable alternative work.
15.3 Employees who wish to vary their working pattern on return from maternity leave may have the right to request flexible working (see Appendix 19).
16. Redundancy during maternity leave
16.1 Should a redundancy situation arise, there is statutory entitlement for an employee on maternity leave to be made an offer of any suitable alternative vacancy available. If an employee on OML or AML is made redundant, her maternity leave period comes to an end.