1 Purpose and scope
1.1 This policy sets out the maternity provisions to which all female staff employed by EMS are entitled, both before and after the birth of a child. These maternity provisions comply with relevant legislation. Entitlements to paternity, adoption, dependency and parental leave are detailed in the annual and other leave policy.
1.2 Maternity provisions refer to the leave and pay to which employees may be entitled and their right to resume employment with EMS Ltd following the period of leave. All employees have the right not to be subjected to a detriment on the grounds of pregnancy, childbirth or maternity, irrespective of hours of work or length of service.
1.3 All employees seeking to take maternity leave must produce medical evidence of the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC). This will normally be in the form of a Maternity Certificate (MATB1), available from the doctor or midwife, and will be issued approximately 14 weeks before the expected week of birth.
1.4 Maternity leave is available in respect of all births, whether live or still, after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
2 Antenatal care
2.1 All pregnant employees, irrespective of length of service, are entitled to reasonable paid time off work to keep appointments for antenatal care prescribed by a doctor, midwife or health visitor. Antenatal care includes appointments with GPs, hospital clinics and relaxation classes. Wherever possible, appointments should be arranged at the beginning or end of the working day. Evidence of appointments may be requested.
3 Maternity leave
3.1 All pregnant female employees are entitled to take up to 39 weeks ordinary maternity leave and up to 13 weeks additional maternity leave, making a total of 52 weeks. This is regardless of the number of hours they work or their length of service. Additional maternity leave begins the day after ordinary maternity leave ends.
3.2 Ordinary maternity leave can start any time after the beginning of the 11th week before the employees expected week of childbirth (unless her child is born prematurely before that date in which case it will start earlier).
3.3 No employee can work during the two-week period immediately after the birth of her baby. This is a compulsory maternity leave period.
3.4 Maternity leave will start on whichever date is the earlier of:
- the employees chosen start date
- the day after the employee gives birth or
- the day after any day on which the employee is absent for a pregnancy related reason in the four weeks before the expected week of childbirth.
3.5 Employees will not qualify for sick pay while on maternity leave.
3.6 Employees are encouraged to take any outstanding annual leave due to them before the commencement of ordinary maternity leave. Employees are reminded that holiday should be taken in the year that it is earned and therefore if the holiday year is due to end during maternity leave, the employee should take the full years entitlement before starting her maternity leave.
4 Statutory maternity pay
4.1 If an employee has at least 26 weeks’ service by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of birth of her child, and her average weekly earnings exceed the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions, she will be entitled to receive Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). SMP is payable whether or not the employee returns to work.
4.2 SMP is payable for a maximum of 39 weeks and is based on qualifying average weekly earnings (basic salary) over the eight weeks up to and including the last pay day before the end of the 15th week before the EWC. However, if a pay rise is granted that is effective from a date between the start of the period used to calculate a SMP and the end of the employee’s maternity leave, the employee’s average weekly earnings will be recalculated taking account of the pay rise. SMP is subject to deductions for Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and National Insurance contributions. SMP rates are 90 per cent of average weekly earnings for the first six weeks, then the lower of either, 90 per cent of average weekly earnings or the statutory rate for the remaining 33 weeks.
4.3 To claim SMP, the employee must notify CEO in writing of her intention to take maternity leave by the end of the 14th week before the expected week of childbirth, unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so.
5 Annual leave
5.1 The period of absence on ordinary maternity leave will be counted as ‘service’ for annual leave purposes. An employee will therefore be entitled to take an amount of annual leave in the leave year in which she has her child and in the following leave year where the period of maternity leave crosses two leave years. However, annual leave must be taken in accordance with the annual leave policy and no more than five days may automatically be carried over into the following year. During additional maternity leave, annual leave will not accrue under the employee’s contract of employment. Instead, annual leave will continue to accrue in accordance with the statutory minimum entitlement required by the Working Time Regulations 1998. Annual leave accrued while on additional maternity leave must be taken during the current leave year and cannot be carried over.
6 Pension arrangements
6.1 An employee on maternity leave will continue to be a member of the pension scheme if they belong to one. When they are in receipt of full pay, the employee’s contributions will be deducted as usual. During periods of SMP, the employee’s contributions will be deducted according to the total amount of pay received.
7 Health and safety
7.1 If the employee’s health or that of her unborn child is at risk due to the work she normally does, then EMS Ltd will either alter her conditions of work or offer her suitable, alternative work. If that is not possible, the employee will be sent home on full pay until she is no longer at risk. For this reason, the employee is asked to notify the CEO as soon as she is aware she might be pregnant. In addition, if the employee feels that there is a possibility of risk involved in the work she does, she must contact her manager and HR immediately to arrange for an assessment to be carried out.
8 Contact / Keeping in touch day
8.1 Before an employee’s maternity leave starts, the CEO will discuss the arrangements for her to keep in touch during her maternity leave, should she wish to do so. EMS Ltd reserves the right in any event to maintain reasonable contact with the employee form time to time during her maternity leave. This may be to discuss the employee’s plans for return to work, to discuss any special arrangements to be made or training to be given to ease her return to work or simply to update her on developments during her absence.
8.2 Except during the first two weeks after childbirth, an employee can agree to work or attend training for up to 10 days during either ordinary maternity leave or additional maternity leave without that work bringing the period of her maternity leave to an end and without loss of a week’s SMP. These are known as ‘keeping in touch‘ days. Any work carried out on a day shall constitute a days work for these purposes.
8.3 EMS Ltd has no right to require the employee to carry out any work, and the employee has no right to undertake any work, during her maternity leave. Any work undertaken, including the amount of salary paid for any work done on keeping-in-touch days, is entirely a matter for agreement between EMS Ltd and the employee. Any keeping-in-touch days worked do not extend the period of maternity leave. Once the keeping-in-touch days have been used up, the employee will lose a week’s SMP for any week in which she agrees to work for EMS Ltd. Whilst on occupational maternity pay, no additional salary payment will be made. Pension contributions may be payable for salary received on KIT days.
9 The employee’s obligations: summary
9.1 In order to qualify for maternity leave and pay the employee must: notify her line manager in writing by the end of the 14th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) of the fact that she is pregnant, her EWC and the date on which she wants to start leave give evidence of her EWC by providing the CEO with a Maternity Certificate (Form MATB1), issued by her doctor or midwife approximately 14 weeks before the EWC give at least 8 weeks’ notice of the date she intends to return to work before the end of her ordinary or additional maternity leave; failure to give this notice may lead to a postponement of return until 8 weeks have elapsed return to work within the specified period for at least three months in order to retain the additional company benefits, save that all employees are entitled to statutory maternity pay even if they do not return to work.
10 Continuity of service
10.1 Continuity of service will not be broken by any period of maternity leave, whether paid or unpaid, and therefore entitlement to periods of notice, holidays and sick leave which accrued at the beginning of maternity leave will be preserved, in accordance with the terms of the employee’s contract of employment.
11 Returning to work
11.1 An employee may exercise the right to return to work at any time during the period of leave, except that she may not return within two weeks of the birth of the child. If returning from ordinary maternity leave, she will have the right to return to the same job on the same terms and conditions as if she had not been absent. If returning after company maternity leave, the employee has the right to return to her same job, unless this is not reasonably practicable. In this case she has the right to return to a job that is both suitable and appropriate.
11.2 If an employee returns before the end of her stated period of maternity leave, she should give EMS Ltd at least 8 weeks’ notice, in writing, of her intended date of return. If the employee fails to give the required notice, EMS Ltd may postpone her return for up to 8 weeks.
11.3 While full-time employees do not have a legal right to return to work on a part time basis, EMS Ltd will give serious consideration to a request from a full-time employee to return to work on a part-time basis, either temporarily or permanently, after maternity leave. The employee should submit a request in writing as early as possible. Any change will be discussed with the employee at a meeting within 28 days of the request being received.