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Maternity leave for paid parish workers

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:


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


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

Overview of Employer and Employee responsibilities

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 the Employment Status Indicator.

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.

Current rates of SMP can be found at www.gov.uk/maternity-pay-leave.

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 are accrued.

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 are accrued.

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.


What are ‘keep in touch’ days?

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 be a 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.

A member of my team is currently on maternity leave and has advised me that she does not want to return to work at the end of her maternity leave. What do I do?

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.

What happens if an employee is on maternity leave during the Annual Pay Review?

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.

Why does a Risk Assessment need to be carried out?

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.

What happens to an employee’s pension contributions when on maternity leave?

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.

How far up to the week of childbirth can an employee work?

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
  • 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.

Is there any limit to the number of times an employee can take maternity leave?

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.

What happens if, sadly, the baby is still born?

If the baby is still born after the start of the 24th week of pregnancy, the employee is still entitled to take maternity leave.

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