University's contractual maternity pay scheme

The University’s contractual maternity pay scheme entitles all eligible employees (regardless of their grade or the hours worked) to receive some pay during their maternity leave that is paid to them at a rate which is equivalent to their normal full rate of pay. If the employee is eligible for SMP or MA the payment made by the University will effectively ‘top up’ the statutory pay so that the employee receives the equivalent of their normal full pay for up to 26 weeks.

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In order to qualify for the contractual maternity pay scheme, at the qualifying week the employee must: 

i. hold a current CMS contract of employment with the University; and 
ii.have started employment with the University before her EWC and before the start of her period of maternity leave; and
iii. provide her department with the correct notification of her intention to take leave, and 
iv. confirm her intention to return to work following the birth of her baby (and to actually return for a minimum of 3 months). If an employee is on a fixed-term contract, which is due to end during the planned maternity leave read the guidance below.



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If an employee meets all the qualifying requirements outlined above, and her University contract of employment will continue throughout the entire period of the proposed maternity leave she will be eligible to receive the following:

  • up to 26 weeks' leave during which she will receive pay equivalent to her full rate of pay through a combination of statutory payments from whatever source, and University ‘top up’;
  • up to 13 weeks' leave paid at the rate of SMP only (if eligible); followed by
  • up to 13 weeks' unpaid leave.

Total maternity leave = up to 52 weeks.

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SMP is a state benefit paid at a statutory flat rate set by the government. It is always paid via an employer’s payroll (the employer then reclaims this from HMRC).

To qualify for SMP, the woman must:

  • have worked for an employer continuously for at least 26 weeks, continuing into the qualifying week (15th week before the expected week of childbirth);
  • have average weekly earnings above the National Insurance lower earnings limit;
  • have given her department the correct notice and proof of pregnancy (see 'Before the birth' section).

There is a government calculator which can help determine the statutory benefits to which an employee may be entitled. The Payroll team can also help to establish whether a woman is eligible for SMP at the appropriate time.

SMP is paid over the first 39 weeks of maternity leave at the rate of:

  • 90% of average weekly earnings (this figure is worked out at the qualifying week) for each of the first six weeks of maternity leave; followed by
  • 33 weeks of flat rate SMP (for current rates see the website). The flat rate is set by the government and is subject to review every April.

If the mother qualifies for SMP and contractual pay to be paid by the University

If the mother has 26 weeks continuous service with the University at her qualifying week she will continue to receive her normal full rate of salary for up to the first 26 weeks' maternity leave, and any SMP which is due to her is automatically incorporated into those payments: that is, SMP is not paid in addition to full pay.

After the first 26 weeks the University continues to pay SMP, on behalf of HMRC, for a further 13 weeks. A further 13 weeks unpaid leave are also available.

If the mother qualifies for the University’s contractual pay but does not qualify for statutory payments to be made to her by the University

New starters to the University who do not have 26 weeks continuous service at the qualifying week will be expected to claim any statutory benefits to which they are entitled either directly from Jobcentre Plus, or from a previous employer, and to disclose the amount they are receiving to the University.

The University will take such payments into account and ‘top up’ so that the combination of SMP from her previous employer or MA from Jobcentre Plus and the payment from the University will total her normal full rate of pay from the University (ie full pay is not paid in addition to statutory benefits).

In the case of a multiple birth, an employee is entitled to the same benefits as if she were having one child.

Please read the full guidance on arrangements for employees who qualify for the contractual family pay benefits but do not have 26 weeks continuous service at the qualifying week (15th week before EWC): the Day One scheme

If a woman does not qualify for the University's Contractual maternity pay scheme but does quality for statutory payments 

If  an employee does not meet the qualifying criteria for the University's contractual maternity pay scheme, she may still qualify for SMP and the payment route will be as described above.

A woman who wishes to take maternity leave (and returns to work) but who does not qualify for  contractual pay or statutory pay, still needs to provide a 'MATB1' form to her department, and to fill in a Maternity leave plan. 

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If an employee decides before she goes on maternity leave not to return to work afterwards, then she will not be eligible for the University's contractual maternity pay scheme. She may still qualify to receive SMP

If an employee who has previously confirmed that she will return to work after her leave, subsequently changes her plans and does not to return to work, or returns to work for less than three months, the University reserves the right to reclaim all or part of the ‘top up’ payments made under the University's contractual pay arrangements.  Statutory pay is not subject to an employee returning to work so she may retain any statutory pay element she has received.

If an employee resigns during her maternity leave, she must do so in the normal way, giving the notice period stated in her employment contract. Although all other contractual benefits will end as at the end date of her employment with the University, an employee may continue to be entitled to SMP after employment ends. Any such payment will be paid to the employee as a lump sum amount at the end of her employment.


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Under the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023, employees who are pregnant, or who are currently on or have taken a period of maternity leave, are entitled to enhanced protection from redundancy for 18 months following the birth or placement of the child during any period in which they are considered to be at risk of redundancy (typically the final 3 months of the contract during which period they are considered to be a priority candidate). This means that they should be given priority consideration for redeployment opportunities.

Whilst every effort should be made to support redeployment, there is no guarantee that suitable redeployment will be found: suitable alternative employment (ie where the postholder meets at least the minimum essential selection criteria for the role) may not arise during the relevant period of time.  In such cases the contract will end at its anticipated date and redundancy payments may be due.

Departments must consult with their HR Business Partner. If the contract does end or the employee is made redundant, they may still qualify for a portion of statutory maternity pay. However, the payments under the University’s contractual scheme and all other contractual employment benefits will cease on the contract end date. If an employee continues to be entitled to SMP after employment ends, any such payment will be paid to the employee as a lump sum amount at the end of her employment. The normal arrangements for ending contracts will also apply.

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