As a parish employer you may be required to offer Statutory Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay.

These guidance notes detail what needs to be offered and when.

Key Facts

As a parish employer you may be required to offer Statutory Maternity Leave of 52 weeks which is broken down into:

  • 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML)
  • 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave (AML)

You may also be required to pay Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) of 39 weeks broken down into:

  • 6 weeks paid at 90% of salary
  • 33 weeks at SMP

In addition to OML, AML and SMP, there is a right to paid time off for antenatal appointments and protected employment rights.

Overview of Employer and Employee responsibilities

  • Employee should notify the parish in writing before or no later than the end of the 15th week before the baby is due of their pregnancy, due date and intended start date of maternity leave.
  • Employee should give employer four weeks’ notice of any change to the intended start date of the maternity leave or as soon as reasonably practicable.
  • Employee should give eight weeks’ written notice if they wish to return from their maternity leave early.
  • Line Managers should complete a Maternity Risk Assessment Form (template available) for all expectant and new mothers.
  • Line Manager should ensure that employees on maternity leave are kept informed of changes to the parish that may impact on them. Keep In Touch dates can be offered (template available).
  • Paid time off for antenatal appointments should be allowed.

Paid Time Off for Antenatal Appointments

Employees have the right to reasonable time off with full pay to attend antenatal appointments. These appointments could include:

  • Midwife checks
  • Scans
  • Classes
  • Relaxation classes
  • Physiotherapy appointments

Reasonable time off may include the time to travel to the appointment as well as attendance time.

If the appointment is in the middle of the working day, the employer will need to be flexible in allowing the employee to attend the appointment. This may mean allowing them to work from home for the rest of the day, the employer cannot ask the individual to move their appointment if they do not want to.

Eligibility for Maternity Leave and Maternity Pay

To take maternity leave the person that works for you must be an employee (not a worker) and must give notice of leave 15 weeks before their due date. If you are not clear about the status of the person that works for you, please see our employment status page <link>. The employer must respond within 28 days confirming the date to which the employee’s maternity leave will run.
To receive Maternity Pay an employee must:

  • Have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service with the Parish, assessed at the 15th week before the week the baby is due.
  • Have average weekly earnings in the eight weeks up to and including the qualifying week at our above the lower earnings limit for the payment of National Insurance contributions.
  • Provide a MatB1 certificate which the employee can obtain from their midwife on or after their 20-week appointment.
  • If the employee is not eligible for Maternity Pay, she may be eligible for Maternity Allowance. Further details can be found here.

Rights of employee while on and after maternity leave

Whilst on Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML)

  • Entitled to return to the same job as she occupied before commencing maternity leave.
  • Entitled to same terms and conditions of employment as if she had not been absent.
  • Benefits continue to accrue.

Whilst on Additional Maternity Leave (AML)

  • If not reasonably practicable for the employee to return to the same role, a suitable alternative role can be offered.
  • Entitled to same terms and conditions of employment as if she had not been absent.
  • Benefits continue to accrue.

On return to work

  • If she is unable to attend work at the end of her maternity leave due to sickness or injury, the Parish’s normal arrangements for sickness absence will apply.
  • If the employee wishes to return to work earlier than the expected return date, she must give the Parish at least 8 weeks’ notice of her date of early return in writing.

Frequently Asked Questions

A woman can work for up to 10 agreed ‘keeping in touch days’ (KIT) during maternity leave without the loss of SMP or Maternity Allowance. The most likely reasons for this are training or any activity undertaken for the purposes of keeping in touch with the workplace. The decision to undertake a KIT day must be made by agreement between the employee and the employer. The parish has no right to demand that any such KIT work is undertaken and the employee has no right to undertake such work. Important points to note include the following:

  • A KIT day cannot be taken during the first two weeks after child birth.
  • The employee can work for one hour or a whole day. This will still constitute a full KIT day.
  • The KIT day will not bring an employee’s maternity leave period to an end.
  • Once the 10 KIT days have been used up the employee will lose a week’s SMP for any week in which she agrees to work. It may also bring maternity leave to an end.


If the employee decides to leave 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, you may ask the employee to return to work for the remainder of the notice period.

Employees maintain their entitlement to an annual pay review whilst on maternity leave. Any increase will be confirmed in writing during the period of maternity leave and will be effective from the date the employee returns to work.

You are legally obliged to carry out a Risk Assessment once you are advised of an employee’s pregnancy. This is a requirement under the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations. The assessment enables line managers to identify any limitations and therefore any changes that should be adopted e.g. lifting heavy boxes, sitting for long periods of time and any additional support, such as a coccyx wedge, back support, rest areas, or a new DSE assessment.

Maternity leave is treated as pensionable service. The pension contribution will be calculated as if the employee were working normally and receiving the normal remuneration payable for doing so. The employee will be required to continue contributing to the scheme. The employee contribution rate will apply to the amount of pay actually received (usually SMP). During a period of unpaid maternity leave, neither the employee nor the employer will be expected to contribute. The employee may, if she chooses, pay contributions during this period but the employer will not have a duty to contribute.

Ordinary maternity leave can start at any time after the beginning of the 11th week before the employee’s expected week of childbirth (unless her child is born prematurely before that date in which case it will start earlier). Maternity leave will start on whichever date is the earlier of:

  • the employee’s chosen start date – if the employee wishes to change this date, they must give the employer at least 28 days-notice and agree a new date.
  • the day after the employee gives birth, or
  • the day after any day on which the employee is absent for a pregnancy-related reason in the four weeks before the expected week of childbirth.

No. If an employee is pregnant, her entitlement to maternity leave is not affected by how many periods of maternity leave she has had or whether these periods overlap.

If the baby is still born after the start of the 24th week of pregnancy, the employee is still entitled to take maternity leave. They will also be entitled to Parental Bereavement leave of an additional 2 weeks.