Maternity pay entitlements
Please check section 15 of the Agenda for Change handbook (note there are different provisions for England and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and your employer's policy for more detail.
Contractual payments in the handbook are as follows:
- for the first eight weeks of absence you will receive full pay, less any Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance (including any dependents’ allowances)
- for the next 18 weeks you will receive half of full pay, plus any Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance (including any dependents’ allowances), providing the total receivable does not exceed full pay
- for the next 13 weeks, you will receive any Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance that you are entitled to under the statutory scheme.
Eligibility for contractual maternity pay
Whether you work full-time or part-time you will be entitled to paid and unpaid maternity leave under the NHS contractual maternity pay scheme if you have 12 months’ continuous service with one or more NHS employers at the beginning of the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth.
Before the end of the 15th week before the expected date of childbirth (or if this is not possible, as soon as is reasonably practicable thereafter) you must provide your employer with a MATB1 form.
You must also inform your employer in writing of:
- your intention to take maternity leave
- the date you wish to start your maternity leave. You can choose when to start this, usually any date from the beginning of the 11th week before the baby is born (but see paragraph 15.8)
- your intention to return to work with the same or another NHS employer for a minimum period of three months after your maternity leave has ended.
Continuous employment and reckonable service
See sections 12 and 15 of the handbook for advice on continuous service.
Returning to work after maternity leave
To claim NHS contractual maternity pay you must intend to return to work with the same or another NHS employer for a minimum period of three months after your maternity leave has ended.
You can return to work early if you give at least 28 days’ notice, although some local policies require eight weeks.
You have the right to return to your job, under your original contract with no less favourable terms and conditions.
If you want to return to work on different hours in the same job your employer must facilitate this unless they provide written, objectively justifiable reasons why this is not possible.
Failure to return to work
If you do not return to NHS employment within 15 months of the beginning of your maternity leave, then you will be liable to refund the whole of your maternity pay (except for the Statutory Maternity Pay element). In cases where your employer considers that to enforce this provision would cause undue hardship or distress, they will have the discretion to waive their rights to recovery.
If you satisfy the conditions in paragraph 15.7 but do not intend to work with the same or another NHS employer for a minimum period of three months after your maternity leave is ended, you will only will be entitled to pay that is equivalent to Statutory Maternity Pay. This is paid at 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings for the first six weeks of your maternity leave and at a flat rate sum for the following 33 weeks.
You can find out more about maternity, work and family here.