How to manage the build up to maternity leave.
From the moment an employee tells her employer she is pregnant, there are many things an employer should plan for and carry out.
Set out below are the key things to consider when managing the build up to maternity leave. (Please see the Glossary below for further information on terms used in the guide).
Key considerations Confirm the maternity leave arrangements
By the 15th week before the EWC the employee should notify you in writing of her pregnancy, her EWC and the dates on which she wants her maternity leave to start.
The employee must provide you with a MATB1 form as soon as possible if she wishes to claim SMP. The employee cannot plan a start date for her OML that is earlier than the 11th week before the EWC but, as most employees are entitled to take up to one year’s maternity leave, you should plan on this basis and notify her of the date her maternity leave will end if she takes a year’s leave. She is not obliged to tell you at the outset how long she aims to take.
An employee whose EWC is on or after 5 April 2015, may also be entitled to share her leave. If she plans to do this, she must notify you in writing of her entitlement to Shared Parental Leave and her intention to do so, 8 weeks before the first proposed period. She must identify her partner and specify proposed dates of Shared Parental Leave. For further information, see our Shared Parental Leave checklist.
Confirm the arrangements for maternity pay and terms and conditions during maternity leave or ShPL.
- Confirm whether she is entitled to receive enhanced maternity pay or shared parental leave pay (if the company operates this) and, if so, set out amounts and timing. Set out any provisions for repayment in the event that she does not return to work.
- Confirm her entitlement to SMP (if she has 26 weeks’ continuous service and is still employed by you at the 15th week before the EWC) or ShPP.
- Confirm that she is entitled to the same terms and conditions of employment (except remuneration) during her maternity leave as if she were not on leave. Benefits such as health club membership, use of company car or laptop, or health insurance etc should continue. Although the employee’s pension contributions will be pro-rated down, company pension contributions should continue at normal levels (with no reduction to account for the employee’s lower pay during maternity leave or ShPL) while she is in receipt of maternity pay or ShPP. You could suggest she considers topping up her pension contributions to maintain the same level when her pay reduces and/or expires.
- Explain how any bonuses or pay rises crystallising during maternity leave will be calculated.
Risk Assessment and working conditions
You must assess whether there are any risks posed to an expectant mother or her unborn baby and, if any significant risks are identified, you should try to alter the employee’s working conditions or hours to avoid that risk. If this is not possible, you should offer suitable alternative work on terms that are not substantially less favourable. If no such work is available, you may have to suspend the employee on full pay to protect her health and safety or that of her unborn child.
Irrespective of her working hours or length of service, the employee has the right to reasonable paid time off during working hours for receiving antenatal care. This enables her to attend midwife/doctors appointments and could also cover attendance at relaxation and parent craft classes.
You should encourage her to give as much notice as possible of appointments, as it may be reasonable to refuse to allow her the time off if short notice for a non-urgent appointment means you cannot arrange cover.
Workload and handover
Discuss how her workload will be covered during her maternity leave and what she needs to do for handover purposes. This may include agreeing how work will be split, meeting with staff who will be taking on work from her, making handover notes and updating her line manager.
When she goes on maternity leave, or ShPL, she will continue to accrue both statutory and contractual annual leave. As any leave is likely to span two holiday years, discuss whether she wants to use up any outstanding annual leave for the current holiday year before starting maternity leave. You could also consider allowing her to take it on her return from maternity leave or ShPL. Similarly, you should encourage her to consider what she wants to do with holiday which will accrue in the next holiday year. She may wish to add annual leave to the end of her maternity leave or ShPL or to keep some to take once she has returned to work.
Keeping in contact
Agree how the employee would prefer to be contacted while she is on maternity leave and whether she wants to receive any regular updates such as industry publications, company vacancy lists, company newsletters etc.
KIT days / SPLIT days
Explain that the employee can arrange to come in to work for up to 10 days without bringing her maternity leave to an end and in addition can work for up to 20 days during ShPL. Confirm the company’s policy on whether any KIT or SPLIT days are paid and discuss any specific opportunities which may be of interest to the employee such as specific client work, team away days, conferences or training sessions.
AML – Additional Maternity Leave – a further period of 26 weeks’ maternity leave which follows immediately after OML giving a total of 52 weeks’ leave.
EWC – The Expected Week of Childbirth is the week (Sun-Sat) in which the due date falls.
KIT Days – Keeping in Touch Days – a woman can work for her employer for up to 10 KIT Days during her maternity leave without it ending.
MATB1 form – form given to expectant mother by their midwife or doctor from the 20th week before the EWC which confirms the pregnancy and due date.
OML – Ordinary Maternity Leave – 26 weeks’ maternity leave.
SMP – Statutory Maternity Pay.
ShPL – Shared Parental Leave.
ShPP – Statutory Shared Parental Pay. SPLIT days – Shared Parental Leave – In Touch days – a parent can work for up to 20 SPLIT days during her ShPL without it ending. These are in addition to her KIT days.
This note is a summary of the issues and is not a substitute for detailed legal advice. It may contain information of general interest about current legal topics, but it should not be taken as providing legal advice on any of the topics covered.