Maternity

This page sets out your entitlements under UK legislation on maternity leave and pay. Expectant and new mothers may be entitled to maternity leave, and statutory maternity pay, occupational maternity pay or maternity allowance.

You can also read advice about your responsibilities when going on maternity leave, returning to work and your pension.

ATL offers a special membership package for members who are about to go on maternity leave and/or plan to take a break from teaching in order to raise a family. Please contact the membership department on 020 7782 1602 for further details.

Maternity leave

All expectant and new mothers in employment are entitled to 52 weeks maternity leave. This is irrespective of your length of service with your current employer.

Statutory maternity pay

To qualify for statutory maternity pay (SMP), you must have 26 weeks' continuous service with your current employer by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.

SMP is paid for a continuous period of up to 39 weeks. For the first six weeks, you will be paid at 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings. Then, for the remaining 33 weeks you will be paid at the standard rate of £136.78 per week (from 1 April 2013) or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings if this is lower.

Occupational maternity pay

To qualify for occupational maternity pay (OMP), you must be covered by the Burgundy Book and employed for at least one year and 11 weeks with one or more local authorities by the expected week of childbirth.

OMP is also paid for a continuous period of up to 33 weeks. For the first four weeks, you will be paid at 100 per cent of salary. Weeks 5 - 6 are paid at 90 per cent of salary, and weeks 7 - 18 at 50 per cent of salary plus the standard SMP rate (£136.78 from 1 April 2013). The remaining 21 weeks are paid at the standard SMP rate.

Teachers in Scotland are entitled to the same amount of maternity leave, but they are entitled to 13 weeks at full pay followed by 26 weeks of statutory maternity pay.

For those not employed under Burgundy Book conditions, payments are made as follows:

FE colleges

Members should check their contracts of employment to see if they are entitled to receive any occupational maternity pay. Otherwise, providing they meet the qualifying criteria, members will be entitled to statutory maternity pay only.

Support staff

Members employed under the National Joint Council for Local Government Services National Agreement on Pay and Conditions of Service (known as the 'Green Book') are entitled, providing they have completed 1 year's continuous local government service at the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth, to six weeks at 90% of pay, and, if they declare in writing that they intend to return to work, 12 weeks at 50% of pay. If the employee does not intend to return to work, payments for the remaining 33 weeks will be at statutory maternity pay rate only.

Members not employed under the Green Book (whether they are in the state maintained or independent sectors) should check their contracts of employment to see if they are entitled to receive any occupational maternity pay. Otherwise, providing they meet the qualifying criteria, members will be entitled to statutory maternity pay only.

Independent schools

Members should check their contracts of employment to see if they are entitled to receive any occupational maternity pay. Otherwise, providing they meet the qualifying criteria, members will be entitled to statutory maternity pay only.

Both statutory and occupational maternity pay are treated as earnings and you will pay tax, national insurance and pension contributions on it as appropriate.

Maternity allowance

If you do not qualify for statutory maternity pay, you may qualify for maternity allowance. This is payable if your earnings are at least as much as the earnings threshold of £30.00 per week (as at April 2012) for 26 weeks within the 66 weeks prior to your expected week of childbirth.

Maternity allowance is £135.45 per week (from 1 April 2013) or 90 per cent of your weekly earnings if they are less than £123.10 and should be claimed from your local office of the Department for Work and Pensions.

If employed, your employer should inform you if they are not able to pay you statutory maternity pay and provide you with form MA1 to claim maternity allowance.

Maternity allowance is not taxable or pensionable.

Employment Support Allowance

If you are not eligible for maternity allowance then you may be able to claim Employment Support Allowance (ESA). You should speak to your local office of the Department for Work and Pensions for details of how to claim.

Your responsibilities

There is no statutory requirement for you to inform your employer until 15 weeks before your expected week of childbirth. However, notifying your employer earlier gives more time for a health and safety risk assessment to be carried out.

You may have to inform your employer earlier if you wish to attend antenatal classes, appointments for scans, etc.

You should notify your employer in writing that you are pregnant by the 15th week before your expected week of childbirth. The letter must state the date that you wish to start your maternity leave (you will need to give 28 days' notice if you wish to vary this date). The earliest you can start your maternity leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.

You should give your employer a copy of the form MAT B1 (the certificate stating your expected week of childbirth issued by your midwife). It will then write back to you within 28 days confirming the start and end date of your maternity leave.

Your employer must assume that you are going to take your full entitlement to maternity leave. If you start maternity leave on a different date to that in your notification, you should receive confirmation of your expected return-to-work date.

Starting maternity leave

You may start your maternity leave on any day of the week you wish. If your baby is born earlier than the date notified to your employer then your maternity leave will start immediately.

If you are ill with a pregnancy-related illness within four weeks of your expected week of childbirth, your maternity leave will start automatically. If your illness is not related to your pregnancy, you are entitled to remain on sick leave until your original maternity leave start date or your baby is born, whichever is earlier. You will need to provide sick certificates for this entitlement.

During maternity leave, you remain an employee and have the same rights as other members of staff, with the exception of the differences in pay.

Working during maternity leave

Your employer may have a system which allows you to be kept informed formally of developments at work and enables the employer to know how you are getting on with your new baby.

Legislation allows mothers with an expected week of childbirth after 1 April 2007 to return to work for up to 10 days during their maternity leave if they wish. These are known as 'keeping in touch' (KIT) days, and can be used to attend INSET or other continuing professional development (CPD) training.

You should be paid an appropriate daily rate for any work you undertake. If you are still entitled to receive SMP or maternity allowance, you will need to agree with your employer whether any SMP or maternity allowance is deducted. If you decide to undertake work over and above the 10-day limit then any SMP or MA you are entitled to will cease.

If you undertake work for an employer other than the one paying you maternity pay during your paid maternity leave, your entitlement to statutory maternity pay will finish and will not be reinstated.

Returning to work

If you wish to amend your working pattern after maternity leave, please see ATL's factsheet Working part time after maternity.

There is no requirement for you to inform your employer if you return on the date agreed at the start of your maternity leave. If you wish to return before this date or vary your date of return, you will need to write to your employer giving at least four weeks' notice (eight weeks for those not covered by the Burgundy Book, but you should check with your employer).

If you are ill at the end of your maternity leave you are entitled to sick leave provided you have a medical certificate from your GP. If you wish to return to work during a school closure period, you should get a certificate from your GP which states that you are fit to return to work on that date.

If you have received occupational maternity pay under the Burgundy Book conditions, you are required to return to your previous employer for a total of 13 weeks full-time service (or part-time equivalent) to retain the portion of maternity pay paid at 50 per cent of salary. School holidays and sickness are included in this period. If you were a full-time teacher and return on a part-time basis, you will need to work the equivalent of 13 full weeks.

If you return to work after ordinary maternity leave (first 26 weeks) on your previous contract you must be returned to your old job. If you return to work after additional maternity leave (second 26 weeks) you may either be returned to your original role or your employer may decide to employ you in a similar role after discussion with you. This must not be on a lower salary or with reduced responsibility.

It is possible that your employer may offer you an alternative role until the start of the next academic year or term. You will need to consider whether you think this is reasonable - please contact ATL if you believe the offer is unreasonable.

Resigning your post

If you wish to resign your post whilst on maternity leave you are still subject to the normal notice provisions. In the maintained sector the resignation dates are:

  • two months' notice to be received by 28 February to leave at 30 April

  • three months' notice to be received by 31 May to leave at 31 August

  • two months' notice to be received by 31 October to leave at 31 December.

Teachers' Pension Scheme

While you are on paid maternity leave you will be credited with service in the Teachers' Pension Scheme providing you earn at least 50 per cent of your normal salary or you are in receipt of SMP. You will pay your contribution based on what you actually earn but the percentage you pay will be based on your normal full-time equivalent salary. When your paid maternity leave ends you will no longer be in pensionable service. If you are on unpaid maternity or adoption leave you are counted as being in pensionable service for purposes of the death grant only.

If you remain out of pensionable service for more than five years, when you return to teaching you will join the revised pension scheme. This means that all service credited after your return will have a retirement age of 65 years and you will receive a pension based on the length of service in the revised scheme and one sixtieth of your pensionable salary.

You may claim any pension based on previous service from age 60, and you will be entitled to a pension based on your length of service and one eightieth of your pensionable salary and a tax-free lump sum of three eightieths of your pensionable salary for each year of service.

Further education agreements

ATL and the national employers' body (the Association of Colleges) have agreed national guideline agreements which establish recommended minimum standards for colleges and FE institution for maternity, paternity, parental and adoption leave.

Need further advice?

Your first point of contact is your ATL rep in your school or college. Your local ATL branch is also available to help with queries, or you can contact ATL's member advisors on tel: 020 7930 6441 or email us. Please have your membership number to hand when telephoning and include it with any correspondence - this will help us to answer your query more quickly.

MyATL

My role

My sector

My location

Find my branch