Maternity Policy

  1. Introduction
  2. Antenatal care
  3. Maternity leave entitlements
  4. Maternity pay entitlements
  5. Maternity leave
  6. Annual leave
  7. Adoption
  8. Staff on fixed-term contracts
  9. Grant-funded staff
  10. Maternity cover
  11. Pension arrangements
  12. Health and safety
  13. What the employee must do
  14. Salary progression
  15. Continuity of service
  16. Communications
  17. Keeping-in-touch days
  18. Returning to work
  19. Useful links

Forms: Maternity leave application form (Office document, 54kB) and Keeping in touch day (during maternity/adoption/additional paternity leave) form (Office document, 57kB)

Further Info: University of Bristol Work and Family pages


1. Introduction

The University of Bristol is committed to ensuring equality and diversity across the organisation and the purpose of this Maternity Policy is to provide an opportunity for our staff to integrate the development of a career with family responsibilities.

This document sets out the maternity provisions to which employees are entitled, both before and after the birth of their child. These maternity provisions comply with the relevant legislation (including the TURER Act 1993, the Employment Relations Act 1999, the Employment Act 2002, and the Work and Families Act 2006 and consequent regulations) and apply to all eligible staff employed by the University.

Maternity provisions refer to the leave and pay to which employees may be entitled, and their right to resume employment with the University, 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 service and have the right to demand a written statement of the reasons for dismissal, if dismissed while pregnant.

There is no distinction between live and still births in the granting of maternity leave.

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2. Antenatal care

All pregnant employees irrespective of length of service have a statutory right to reasonable paid time off work to keep appointments for antenatal care prescribed by a doctor, midwife or health visitor. Evidence of appointments may be requested.

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3. Maternity leave entitlements

All employees are entitled to take up to one year’s (52 weeks') maternity leave, regardless of length of service with the University. Although it is up to employees to decide how much of the 52 weeks’ maternity leave they wish to take, the law requires that a minimum of two weeks’ leave from date of childbirth must be taken.

Maternity leave and pay are separate entitlements. Entitlement to maternity pay will depend on length of service and on whether or not the employee returns to work following the period of maternity leave. These entitlements are detailed below:

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4. Maternity pay entitlements

All employees seeking occupational or statutory maternity pay must provide the University with a MATB1 (Maternity Certificate) as soon as possible during the pregnancy.  The MATB1 is issued by a doctor or midwife no sooner than the 20th week before the baby is due.

University of Bristol Occupational Maternity Pay

To be eligible to receive University of Bristol Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP), which is inclusive of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), employees must have completed at least 26 weeks’ continuous service for the University, regardless of the number of hours worked, into the 15th week before the baby is due.

A further condition of Occupational Maternity Pay is that employees should return to work at the University, in a full or part-time capacity, for at least 3 months following maternity leave.  It should be noted that annual leave accrued during maternity leave which is subsequently taken on return will not count towards those 3 months. That is, the 3 month period will start after the annual leave accrued during maternity leave has been taken. The University reserves the right to reclaim all the non-statutory elements of pay if an employee fails to return for this period of time.  Eligibility to Statutory Maternity Pay remains unaffected, regardless of whether the individual returns

Employees who qualify for Occupational Maternity Pay can choose between the following two options:

OMP Option 1

OMP Option 2

Statutory Maternity Pay

Staff who comply with the above length of service criteria (ie who have completed at least 26 weeks’ continuous service for the University, regardless of the number of hours worked, into the 15th week before the baby is due) but who indicate before the commencement of their maternity leave that they do not wish to return to work, will receive 39 weeks Statutory Maternity Pay only (provided that their earnings also reach the government’s Lower Earnings Limit for National Insurance Contributions).

Statutory Maternity Pay is determined by the government as follows:

Unpaid leave / maternity allowance

Staff who have less than 26 weeks’ continuous service into the 15th week before the baby is due will not be entitled to Occupational Maternity or Statutory Maternity Pay, but may be entitled to a state Maternity Allowance which can be claimed via the individual’s local JobCentre Plus office. Such staff are also entitled to up to 52 weeks’ unpaid Maternity Leave as outlined in the Maternity Leave Entitlements section above (at least 2 weeks of which from date of childbirth must be taken).

General points:

5. Maternity leave

6. Annual leave

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7.Adoption

The University has a separate policy on adoption leave, which covers adoption, fostering for adoption and ‘Parental Order’ surrogacy arrangements.

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8. Staff on fixed-term contracts

Individuals whose fixed-term contract of employment expires before the start of maternity leave will be able to claim Statutory Maternity Pay from the University subject to eligibility.

Individuals whose fixed-term contract of employment expires during the Occupational Maternity Pay period or prior to the completion of 3 months’ return to work will be unable to fulfil the usual OMP requirement to return to work following maternity leave and remain in work for at least 3 months.  However, so long as all the other eligibility criteria are met, such individuals will be able to claim Occupational Maternity Pay up to the last day of their contract.  Thereafter Statutory Maternity Pay can be claimed subject to eligibility.

Individuals whose fixed-term contract expires after the occupational pay period but during the statutory pay period will continue to be paid statutory maternity pay subject to eligibility.

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9. Grant funded staff

Those staff who are grant funded should contact both the grant holders and the Faculty HR Manager at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss whether any additional arrangements may be available under the grant terms for the payment of salary during maternity leave. For instance, some funding bodies do have a policy to extend grants to cover maternity periods.

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10. Maternity cover

If it is necessary to provide a temporary replacement for staff on maternity leave, funding is available to meet the equivalent additional costs which will fall on the department. Consideration must be given to the extent of cover required and the nature of the duties to be undertaken, and this must be agreed by Human Resources, who will provide financial support for maternity cover.

Staff on proleptic appointments:  For the purposes of maternity cover, staff on pathway 2 proleptic appointments will be treated like core-funded pathway 1 staff.

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11. Pension arrangements

Staff on maternity leave will continue to be members of the relevant pension scheme.

a. If the employee is in the Pension Salary Exchange Scheme:

OMP will be based on Reference Pay and the employee will therefore be no worse off. The employee will continue to participate in the Pension Salary Exchange Scheme while in receipt of OMP, unless  they opt out of the scheme under a 'lifestyle event' (please refer to the Pensions Salary Exchange Scheme for details). The amount exchanged will be based on the OMP actually received, so during periods of half pay the amount exchanged will be based on the half pay received. The University will pay normal and additional employers’ contributions as if the individual were on full pay for the period.

It is not possible to salary exchange from statutory pay. Therefore, when in receipt of SMP only, SMP cannot be reduced under Salary Exchange. However, the University will pay the additional pension contributions while in receipt of SMP only, just as if the individual were on full pay for the period.

Higher rate SMP will be based on adjusted pay in accordance with statutory requirements. Where staff are only entitled to SMP and not to OMP, the Pensions and Payroll team will opt members out of Pension Salary Exchange to prevent any reduction in the higher rate of SMP. 

During periods of unpaid leave (ie no SMP) it is not possible to participate in the Pension Salary Exchange scheme since the employee will not be in receipt of any earnings, therefore Pensions and Payroll will opt such members out of Pension Salary Exchange. If the employee wishes to maintain  their employee pension contributions in relation to this period, they may do so outside of the Pension Salary Exchange Scheme, in which case the University will then pay the employer contributions. The University will only pay contributions if the employee does the same, and these contributions will be outside of the Pension Salary Exchange Scheme.

On return from unpaid maternity leave, the employee may rejoin the Pension Salary Exchange Scheme where appropriate by completing an opt-in form. The Pensions Office will contact the employee directly regarding this at the appropriate time.

b. If the employee is not in the Pension Salary Exchange scheme:

When in receipt of full pay, the employee’s contributions will be deducted as usual. During periods of half pay or Statutory Maternity Pay, employee contributions will be deducted according to the total amount of pay received. The University will make up the employee’s contributions and pay employers’ contributions as if the individual were on full pay for the period. It should be noted that during periods of unpaid leave (ie no SMP) the University will only pay contributions if the employee does the same.

There is a certain amount of flexibility regarding pension payment arrangements. Advice should be sought from the Pensions Office.

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12. Health and safety

The employee should arrange to review work activities in consultation with their manager/supervisor and/or Departmental Safety Adviser immediately upon becoming aware of the pregnancy. Where this may present personal difficulty, the employee is urged to discuss the matter with the Health and Safety Office and their GP at the earliest opportunity. The risk assessment must be documented. Further advice and a risk assessment pro forma is contained in the Health and Safety Office guidance note.

The outcome of the risk assessment may indicate an adjustment in work activities to remove the hazard for the period of pregnancy and breast feeding. Where this is not possible for operational or research reasons, then the individual will need to be found alternative duties of an appropriate nature. If this is not feasible then the individual will be suspended from work on paid leave for as long as necessary to protect their health and safety, and/or that of the child.

Guidance on the assessment of risks associated with pregnancy has been issued to each department and is available for reference. Further guidance can be obtained from the University Health and Safety Office; also see: HSE – A guide for new and expectant mothers who work.

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13. What the employee must do

In order to qualify for maternity leave and maternity pay, and to safeguard the right to return to work, the employee must:

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14. Salary progression

Upon returning to work, the employee’s salary will be reviewed to take into account any increment or general increase which would have applied had they not been on maternity leave.

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15. Continuity of service

The contract of employment continues throughout maternity leave. Continuity of service will not have been broken by an unpaid period of absence under the maternity provision, therefore entitlement to periods of notice, holidays and sick leave which accrued at the beginning of maternity leave will not be lost.

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16. Communications

It is recommended that employees and line managers make arrangements to maintain reasonable contact during maternity leave in order to keep the employee informed of important developments at work, discuss plans for returning to work, etc. Managers should draw particular attention to any changes in structures within the department and ensure the individual is aware of any possible promotion opportunities. Individuals should also ensure that they keep themselves informed as appropriate (eg by regularly reviewing the University’s Current Vacancies Bulletin).

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17. Keeping in touch days

Employees may, by agreement with their Head of Department, undertake up to 10 days paid work, referred to as 'keeping in touch days', during their maternity leave. Such days may be undertaken at any stage during the maternity period except during the first two weeks after the baby is born. The type of work undertaken is a matter for agreement between the employee and their Head of Department. The days may be used for any activity which would ordinarily be classed as work under the employee’s contract, and could be particularly useful in enabling an employee to attend a conference, undertake a training activity or attend a team meeting. Keeping in touch days are optional and can only take place by agreement between both parties.

Keeping in touch days do not extend the statutory or occupational maternity pay period in any way. For instance, if a keeping in touch day occurs during a period of full pay, no additional payment will be made. If a keeping in touch day occurs during a period of half pay or SMP only, this will be effectively “topped up” so that the individual receives full pay for the day in question. Payment for keeping in touch days will only be made after completion of the day’s work.

All employees may undertake up to 10 days work, with the agreement of their Head of Department, regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time. Where an employee works for less than a full day, this will still count as one keeping in touch day for the purposes of the 10 days maximum, although payment will only be made for actual hours worked.

Employees wishing to undertake a keeping in touch day should complete a keeping in touch day form (Word, 33Kb) and forward this to their line manager in the first instance.

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18. Returning to Work

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19.  Useful links

University Nursery Provision: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/nursery-provision/


[1] See Statutory Maternity Pay section for details of higher and lower rates of Statutory Maternity Pay

[2] University Closure Days are currently as follows: Easter Tuesday, the day after Late Summer Bank Holiday, and 5 other days which are fixed each year around the Christmas break. See the University Almanac for more details.

Updated November 2016