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Maternity Policy - Content

1. Purpose and Scope of the Policy

1.1 Scope
1.2 Aims of the Document
1.3 Criteria for Entitlement

2. Entitlement

2.1 All employees are entitled to the following: Occupational Maternity Pay

3. Notification

3.1 Notification of Pregnancy
3.2 Entitlement Information
3.3 Notification of Change of Start Date
3.4 Notification of Early Return
3.5 Keeping in touch days

4. Rights during Maternity Leave

4.1 Continuity of Employment
4.2 Pension
4.3 Salary Deductions
4.4 Annual Leave
4.5 Granting of Maternity Leave

5. Commencement of Maternity Leave

5.1 When Maternity Leave can start
5.2 Childbirth before the Intended Start Date
5.3 Pregnancy- Related Sickness

6. Welfare

6.1 Compulsory period of Maternity Leave
6.2 Antenatal Care
6.3 Risk Assessment

7. Conditions

7.1 Maternity Pay
7.2 End of Employment

8. Managing Maternity Cover

8.1 Financial Assistance
8.2 Reorganising Duties

9. Guidelines and Policies

9.1 Paternity/ Partner's and Adoption Leave, Surrogacy and Fostering


1 Purpose and Scope of the Policy

1.1 Scope
This policy applies to all UCL employees.

1.2. Aim of the document
The aim of this document is to set out UCL's policy for maternity/adoption leave and pay in order to ensure consistency of approach in line with employment legislation and UCL's commitment to good employment practice.

1.3. Criteria for Entitlement
This policy relates to all categories of UCL staff irrespective of funding source. There is no qualifying length of service requirement for occupational maternity pay however staff will need to fulfill Statutory Maternity Pay obligations.

2 Entitlement

2.1. All employees are entitled to the following:

Occupational Maternity Pay is full pay for 18 weeks; this can be paid in either of the following ways:

a ) 18 weeks' full pay, or
b ) 9 weeks' full pay followed by 18 weeks' half pay

In addition to Occupational maternity pay an employee will be eligible for SMP if they have had at least 26 weeks' service at the Notification Week (15th week before the expected week of childbirth) provided that the average earnings are above the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions. 

SMP is payable for a 39-week period and is included within the weeks of full pay detailed in options A and B above. If the employee elects option A, the 18 week full pay period will be followed by 21 weeks' pay at the SMP rate of £136.78 per week. ** If the employee elects option B, a rate equivalent to SMP of £136.78 per week*** will be paid for 9 weeks from week 10 of the paid maternity pay period and for a further 12 weeks from week 28 to week 39 of the maternity pay period. This equates to 21 weeks of SMP.


** or 90% of average weekly earnings, if this amount is lower than £136.78 per week.
*** where the rate equivalent to SMP and half pay exceed the normal salary, the amount of pay will be reduced.

In addition to the periods of maternity leave detailed above, employees are entitled to 13 weeks of unpaid maternity leave or up to 34 weeks unpaid maternity leave where they are not eligible for SMP.

2.2. If the employee chooses not to return to work or not to continue to work for at least three months after the period of maternity leave, UCL will normally reclaim the whole or part of the non-statutory element of maternity pay.

2.3. The maximum amount of leave allowed (including paid maternity leave and unpaid maternity leave) is 52 weeks, beginning on the date the employee advises UCL that maternity leave is to begin. The employee can opt to return to work any time after the end of the 2-week compulsory leave period up to the end of the 52-week period. The employee must give eight weeks' notice to UCL if she intends to return to work earlier or later than previously notified.

2.4. Employees who have not given notice of their intention to return to work will be entitled to receive statutory maternity pay only. Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is 90% of average earnings for the first 6 weeks of maternity leave and £136.78 per week* for the remaining 33 week period.

* or 90% of average weekly earnings, if this amount is lower than £136.78 per week.

2.5 In addition to the provisions of this policy and to mark its commitment to gender equality in academic careers, UCL provides the opportunity for one term of sabbatical leave, without teaching commitments, to be taken by research active academic staff returning from maternity leave, additional paternity/partners leave (of more than 3 months duration) or adoption leave. This leave will enable staff to more quickly re-establish their research activity. Academics interested in this term should meet with their head of department and complete the Sabbatical Term Expression of Interest form within four weeks of their return from leave, as per the Sabbatical Leave Policy (see www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/docs/sabbatical).

3 Notification

3.1 Notification of Pregnancy

An employee is required to notify her Head of Department2 by the end of the 15th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth or adoption (or, if that is not possible, as soon as is reasonably practicable) of their pregnancy and of their expected start date of maternity/adoption leave. Employees should insert their details in the maternity leave calculator https://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/docs/maternity_calculator.php and on completion of this, should then download the maternity pack at the bottom of this page to access the application for maternity leave form. The employee should complete the application and pass this, along with their MAT B1 (or adoption confirmation) to your Head of Department. The Head of Department will then countersign the form and submit the documents by email or post to their contact in HR Employment Contract Administration http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/eca/index.php.

Within four weeks of the first notification of the pregnancy, the Human Resources Division will write to the employee to confirm the maximum amount of maternity leave, the pay she is entitled to and the date by which she is expected to return to work.

3.2 Entitlement Information
To obtain advice on entitlement to maternity leave employees can contact the Senior Human Resources Administrator in HR Employment Contract Administration with responsibility for their department, who can be identified by visiting the Human Resources staff contacts page.

3.3 Notification of Change of Start Date
Employees can change the date maternity leave is due to start by giving their Head of Department at least four weeks' (28 days) notice (or, if that is not possible, as soon as is reasonably practicable). A new maternity leave application form will need to be completed and sent to the Human Resources Division.

3.4 Notification of Return
An employee should preferably give eight weeks written notice if she intends to return to work earlier or later than previously notified. Employees should notify their manager in writing and a copy of the letter should be sent to the Human Resources Division. Requests to change working hours should be made through the procedure in the Work Life Balance Policy.

3.5 Keeping in touch days
Employees and their managers can agree up to 10 'Keeping in touch' days during a period of maternity leave. During these days an employee may attend work, undertake training or keep in touch with work developments through other means without bringing the period of maternity leave to an end. Either the Head of Department or the employee can suggest the use of this facility but they must be agreed by the Head of Department. Heads of Departments will only agree to a 'keeping in touch' day when it is in UCL's interest and the day can be structured to ensure that it is used productively. Employees will be given time off in lieu (in the form of additional annual leave) for any keeping in touch days worked.

4 Rights during Maternity Leave

4.1 Continuity of Employment
Employees are entitled to return to work to the same job as prior to their absence. Where an employee exercises her right of return to work, the whole of her absence shall be regarded as part of her period of continuous employment with UCL for the calculation of superannuation, seniority benefits, accrual of annual leave and of entitlement to statutory rights.

4.2 Pension
For details of how your maternity leave affects your pension, please contact Payroll and Pension Services.
Details of the contact person for your department are available on the Human Resources staff contacts page.

4.3 Salary Deductions
Where a member of staff has authorized salary deductions e.g. Trade Union membership, Additional Voluntary Contributions or Give as You Earn, these payments will continue to be deducted during paid maternity leave. Unless instructed otherwise, UCL will continue to pay the individual's contributions during periods of unpaid maternity leave and these contributions will be recovered from future payments. If you wish to cancel any subscriptions whilst on maternity leave, please contact Payroll and Pension Services.

4.4 Annual Leave
Annual leave (including bank holidays and UCL closure days) is accrued throughout the whole period of maternity leave. Any annual leave accrued during the current leave year may be used in lieu of any equivalent amount of unpaid maternity leave or taken in addition. Annual leave can only be taken after any period of elected unpaid maternity leave. Once an employee commences annual leave they will be deemed to have returned to work and the maternity leave will end. Therefore any annual leave should be taken immediately before the return to work. An employee should exhaust her entitlement to annual leave, including accrued leave, by the end of the leave year after her return to work. Any carryover of leave in excess of 5 days must be by agreement with the Head of Department.

4.5 Granting of Maternity Leave
There shall be no distinction between live and stillbirths in the granting of maternity leave providing the pregnancy lasts for at least 24 weeks.

5 Commencement of Maternity Leave

5.1 When Maternity Leave Can Start
Maternity leave and pay can commence on any day from the start of the 11th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth.

5.2 Childbirth before the Intended Start Date
If childbirth occurs before the employee intended her entitlement to start, the maternity leave will start automatically from the day after the date of childbirth.

5.3 Pregnancy-Related Sickness
An employee who is absent from work due to a pregnancy-related reason after the beginning of the fourth week before the expected week of childbirth automatically triggers her maternity leave, in such cases the maternity leave will commence on the day after the first day of the absence. Any other sickness absence shall be dealt with under UCL's Sickness Absence Policy.

6 Welfare

6.1 Compulsory Period of Maternity Leave
The legal minimum maternity leave which employees are required to take is 2-weeks commencing with the day on which childbirth occurs.

6.2 Antenatal Care
Employees are entitled to take paid time off during working hours for antenatal care.

6.3 Risk Assessment
Once an employee has confirmed she is pregnant, her line manager must review the existing risk assessment/s for her work and consider any risks to the health and safety of the expectant mother and that of her unborn child.

Further information is available from UCL Safety Services: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/estates/safetynet/guidance/pregnant_workers/index.htm

Advice is also available from UCL Occupational Health Service: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/occ_health/

7 Conditions

7.1 Maternity Pay
Maternity pay (if applicable) commences simultaneously with the beginning of the maternity leave period and is paid monthly in arrears (in the same way salary is paid). Pay slips will be sent to the employee's home address.

7.2 End of Employment
For employees who choose not to return to work the appointment will terminate on the last day of work. This is treated as a resignation. UCL will continue to pay Statutory Maternity Pay (if applicable) and at the end of the SMP period, a P45 will be sent to the home address.

UCL will pay the relevant statutory maternity entitlement to those eligible but whose employment ends during the period of maternity leave. An example of this would be if a contract expired due to the completion of a project and the employee was subsequently made redundant. In this instance, the appropriate occupational maternity entitlement will continue to be paid until the last day of employment. After this date, if an employee is entitled to statutory maternity pay, this will be paid until the end of the 39-week period.

UCL rules about managing redundancy apply during maternity leave, including the full range of measures to support redeployment options.

8.  Managing Maternity Cover

8.1 Financial Assistance
In the event that a member of staff applies to take maternity or paternity leave under UCL’s procedures the Department may request financial assistance to cover the duties of the absent employee which need to be undertaken within the period of absence and which cannot be covered by other staff within the department, within their usual working week. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/docs/maternity_and_paternity_cover.php

Most Research Councils permit Principal Investigators to extend the duration of a research project by the length of maternity leave of a member of staff, or employ a second Researcher.

To ensure full financial support can be obtained, including financial support from Research councils, contact should be made at the earliest opportunity with either the relevant finance http://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/secure/fin_docs/finance_contact.html or research administration  contact http://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/secure/research/post_award/post_award_contacts.htm.

8.2 Reorganising duties
In the event that full cover of the duties of the person on maternity/paternity leave is not required, e.g. an individual’s research cannot be easily picked up by another person, the line manager may, in consultation with the staff affected, propose some fixed term re-organisation of duties within the team. Any proposed changes to an individual’s duties should be discussed and agreed with them in advance and workloads should be assessed to ensure that they can be achieved within the working hours of those concerned. 

9. Guidelines and Policies
9.1 Paternity/Partner's Leave, Parental and Adoption Leave, Surrogacy and Fostering
Details of UCL's paternity/partner's leave, parental leave, adoption, surrogacy and fostering are contained within the Policy on Leave for Domestic and Personal Reasons. Alternatively, copies can be requested from the Human Resources Division.

Updated January 2012


1If participating in PensionsExchange your Occupational Maternity pay is based on your 'Reference Salary' i.e. your salary before any pension exchange reduction. This ensures that your Occupational Maternity pay is not affected by either participating or not participating in PensionsExchange. For more information about PensionsExchange at UCL see our Pension web pages.

2Any reference to Head of Department includes anyone deputed by them.