Maternity Leave Policy

(A pdf version of this policy is available for download here)


This policy sets out the statutory rights and responsibilities of employees who are pregnant or have recently given birth and gives details of the arrangements for antenatal care, pregnancy-related illness, maternity leave and pay.

St Stephen in Brannel Parish Council recognises that, from time to time, employees may have questions or concerns relating to their maternity rights. It is the Council’s policy to encourage open discussion with employees to ensure that questions and problems can be resolved as quickly as possible. As the maternity provisions are complex, if an employee becomes pregnant, she should clarify the relevant procedures with the Clerk to ensure that they are followed correctly.

The following definitions are used in this policy:

Expected week of childbirth” means the week, starting on a Sunday, during which the employee’s doctor or midwife expects her to give birth.

Qualifying week” means the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.

 Notification of Pregnancy

On becoming pregnant, we ask that you notify the Clerk as soon as possible. This is important, as there are health and safety considerations for St Stephen in Brannel Parish Council under their duty of care as an employer to ensure that, where appropriate, any reasonable steps are taken to ensure the safety of yourself and your unborn child and that you are not subject to any unnecessary risks.

To qualify for maternity leave, by the end of the qualifying week, or as soon as reasonably practicable afterwards, you are required to inform the Council in writing of the following:

  • Your pregnancy
  • The expected week of childbirth; and
  • the date on which you intend to start your ordinary maternity leave.

After 20 weeks, you must also provide a MAT B1 form, which is the certificate from a doctor or midwife confirming the expected week of childbirth. The form must have either the doctor’s name and address or the midwife’s name and registration number on it.

You are permitted to bring forward or delay your ordinary maternity leave start date, provided that you advise the Council in writing at least 28 days before the new start date or, if that is not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable.

Time Off for Antenatal Care  

Once you have advised the Clerk that you are pregnant, you will be entitled to paid time off work to attend antenatal care. Ante-natal care can include medical appointments but also relaxation and parent craft classes.

In order to be entitled to take time off for antenatal care, you must produce a certificate from your doctor, registered midwife, or registered health visitor, stating that you are pregnant. Except in the case of the first appointment, you should also produce evidence of the appointment, such as a medical certificate or appointment card, if requested to do so.

You should endeavour to give the Clerk as much notice as possible of antenatal appointments and, wherever possible, try to arrange them as near to the start or end of the working day as possible.

Health & Safety

St Stephen in Brannel Parish Council has a duty to take care of the health and safety of all employees. They are also required to carry out a risk assessment to assess the workplace risks to women who are pregnant, have recently given birth or who are breastfeeding.  The Council will provide you with information as to any risks identified in the risk assessment. If the risk assessment reveals that you may be exposed to health hazards in carrying out your normal job duties, the Council will take such steps as are reasonably necessary to avoid those risks, such as altering your working conditions. In some cases, this may mean offering you suitable alternative work (if available) on terms and conditions that are not substantially less favourable.

Maternity Leave

All pregnant employees are entitled to take up to 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave and up to 26 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 on the day after ordinary maternity leave ends.

Ordinary maternity leave can start at any time after the beginning of the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth and may commence as late as the day after the birth of your baby.

The law obliges all employees to take a minimum of two weeks of maternity leave immediately after the birth of the child (four weeks in the case of factory workers).

There are two incidences in which the maternity leave period is triggered automatically:

  • Where childbirth occurs before the maternity leave period would otherwise commence.

In the event of premature birth, you are not required to notify us of the date on which you intend to take your leave but must inform us as soon as is reasonably practicable after the birth, of the date on which you gave birth.

Your maternity leave period will begin automatically on the day following the date of the birth.

  • If you are absent from work, wholly or partly due to your pregnancy, after the beginning of the fourth week before the EWC.

If you are absent from work after the beginning of the fourth week before the EWC, wholly or partly due to your pregnancy, then again you must notify us as soon as reasonably practicable that you are absent for that reason and the date on which your absence began. Your maternity leave period will begin automatically on the day following the first day of such absence.

Once you notify us of the date on which you intend to commence your maternity (or have commenced) we will write to you within 28 days’, notifying you of the date on which you are due to return to work after the end of your additional maternity leave.

Maternity Pay  

Dependent upon your length of service, you may be entitled to statutory maternity pay. If you do not qualify for such a payment, you may dependent upon your circumstances, be eligible to receive allowances from the appropriate government departments.

You will qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) if you meet the following criteria:

  • you have been continuously employed with us for at least 26 weeks’ continuing into the 15th week before the week the baby is due.
  • your average weekly earnings are not less than the lower earnings limit relevant for National Insurance purposes.
  • you are still pregnant at the 11th week before the EWC or have given birth by that time.
  • you have complied with the relevant notification requirements, as detailed above.

The period for which SMP may be paid is called the maternity pay period. The maternity pay period may start at any time from the start of the 11th week before the EWC and can continue for up to 39 weeks’, even if you do not intend to return to work.

The starting date of the maternity pay period will usually be agreed between the employer and the employee however the final decision is yours. The maternity pay period and SMP can start on any day of the week. However:

  • if you work up to the birth, the maternity pay period and SMP will start from the day following the date of the birth.
  • if you are absent from work because of a pregnancy related reason on, or after, the start of the fourth week before the EWC, the maternity pay period will start on the day following the first day you are off work for that reason; and
  • if you are absent on sick leave with an illness which is not pregnancy related, the maternity pay period will start as notified or from the date following the date of birth whichever is the earlier.

Payment will be made at the rate of 90% of your normal salary (or standard rate SMP whichever is the greater) for the first 6 weeks of leave and then up to 33 weeks at the Standard Rate SMP.

If your baby is born before the maternity pay period is due to start, the pay period will begin from the day following the date of birth.

If your baby is born before you have given us a maternity certificate, you must, if reasonably practicable, provide us with medical evidence of the date the baby was born within 28 days’.

If your baby was born early and the maternity pay period has started, SMP will be paid in the normal way until the liability ends as if the baby had been born in the EWC.

If the baby is born after the EWC, the maternity pay period is not affected.

 In the unfortunate event that a baby is stillborn before the 25th week of the pregnancy, i.e. earlier than the 16th week before the EWC, SMP is not payable.

If a baby is stillborn after the start of the 16th week before the EWC, SMP will be paid as it would for a live birth.

Contact During Maternity Leave

Shortly before an employee’s maternity leave starts, the Clerk will discuss the arrangements for her to keep in touch during her leave, should she wish to do so. St Stephen in Brannel Parish Council reserves the right in any event to maintain reasonable contact with the employee from 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 at work during her absence.

 Keeping In Touch Days  

Except during the first two weeks after childbirth (four weeks in the case of factory workers), an employee can agree to work for the Parish Council (or to 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 day’s work for these purposes.

St Stephen Parish Council 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 the Council 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 the Council.

Returning To Work

The employee will have been formally advised in writing by the Council of the date on which she is expected to return to work if she takes her full 52-week entitlement to maternity leave. The employee is expected to return on this date unless she notifies the Council otherwise. If she is unable to attend work at the end of her maternity leave due to sickness or injury, St Stephen in Brannel Parish Council’s normal arrangements for sickness absence will apply. In any other case, late return without prior authorisation will be treated as unauthorised absence.

While the employee is under no obligation to do so, it will assist the Council if she confirms as soon as convenient during her maternity leave that she will be returning to work as expected.

If the employee wishes to return to work earlier than the expected return date, she must give the Council at least eight weeks’ notice of her date of early return, preferably in writing. If she fails to do so, St Stephen in Brannel Parish Council may postpone her return to such a date as will give the Council eight weeks’ notice, provided that this is not later than the expected return date.

If the employee decides not to return to work after maternity leave, she must give notice of resignation as soon as possible and in accordance with the terms of her contract of employment. If the notice period would expire after maternity leave has ended, the Parish Council may require the employee to return to work for the remainder of the notice period.


[1] Adopted by Full Council at the meeting held on Wednesday 1st May 2024 under Minute Number FPC89/24. Due for review in April 2027.