HR Policy
To Be Categorised
HR Directorate
HR Policy Group
Director of Workforce; Employee Director
01 December 2008
01 March 2017
01 March 2020

General Note

NHS Fife acknowledges and agrees with the importance of regular and timely review of policy/procedure statements and aims to review policies within the timescales set out.

New policies/procedures will be subject to a review date of no more than 1 year from the date of first issue.

Reviewed policies/procedures will have a review date set that is relevant to the content (advised by the author) but will be no longer than 3 years.

If a policy/procedure is past its review date then the content will remain extant until such time as the policy/procedure review is complete and the new version published, or there are national policy or legislative changes.


NHS Fife recognises that work and parenthood can create conflicting pressures. NHS Fife wishes to make it as easy as possible for its employees to retain their career and prospects whilst having children and raising a family.


The policy applies to all employees of NHS Fife whether they are full or part time.


The responsibility for the application of the policy rests with Line Managers and HR.


Time off for antenatal care

  • All employees, regardless of length of service or hours, have the right to time off, with full pay, for antenatal care, during normal working hours. This includes any time that the employee needs to travel to the appointment. Where reasonably practicable the appointments should be arranged at the start or end of the working day. Antenatal care includes appointments with GP, hospital clinics, parent-craft and relaxation classes.
  • In order to take time off for antenatal care, the employee is required to produce a certificate from their doctor, registered midwife or registered health visitor, stating that she is pregnant. Except in the case of the first appointment, the employee should also produce evidence of the appointment, such as a medical certificate or appointment card, if required to do so.

Entitlement to leave

All employees, regardless of length of service are entitled to ordinary Maternity Leave of 26 weeks and additional maternity leave of 26 weeks.

Entitlement to pay

Statutory Maternity Pay

  • Employees with less than 26 weeks continuous service with NHS Fife at the 15th week (Qualifying Week) before the Expected Week of Confinement(EWC) do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). However, employees may be entitled to claim Maternity Allowance (MA), from the Benefits Agency for up to 39 weeks, provided that they can satisfy a number of qualifying conditions.
  • Employees with Average earnings below the limit for payment of Class I national insurance, do not qualify for SMP. However, employees may be entitled to claim MA, from the Benefits Agency for up to 39 weeks provided that they can satisfy a number of qualifying conditions.
  • Employees with average earnings above the Class I national insurance limit and with less than one year’s continuous service with NHS Fife, but greater than 26 weeks continuous service, at 15th week (Q.W.) before the EWCwill be entitled to receive a maximum of 39 weeks SMP. The first six weeks are payable at the higher rate of SMP, which is 90% of the average weekly earnings. The remaining 33 weeks are paid at the lower rate of SMP or 90% of the average weekly earnings whichever is less

Occupational Maternity Pay

Employees with average earnings above the Class I national insurance limit and with more than 12 months continuous NHS service at the beginning of the 11th week before the EWC, will be entitled to receive Occupational Maternity Pay and Statutory Maternity Pay as follows:

First 8 weeks: Full pay.

Next 18 weeks: Half pay plus SMP or MA

Next 13 weeks: SMP or MA if entitled to.

Payment cannot exceed Full Pay which is the average earnings of the 2 month period, immediately prior to the 15th week before the EWC.

By prioragreement with NHS Fife, Occupational Maternity Pay only may be paid in a different way, e.g. a combination of full pay and half pay or a fixed amount spread equally over the maternity leave period.

Repayment of Occupational Maternity Pay

If an employee, who has received Occupational Maternity Pay, does not return to work with NHS Fife after taking Maternity Leave or leaves NHS Fife or another NHS employer within 3 months of returning from Maternity Leave, they will be required to repay any Occupational Maternity Pay which they may have received.

Notification of intention to take Maternity Leave

Employees should be encouraged to notify their line manager as soon as possible after becoming pregnant. This is important as there are health and safety considerations for NHS Fife.

An employee who intends to exercise the right to maternity leave must apply for Maternity Leave, by notifying their Line Manager in writing, before the end of the 15th week before her baby is due, where possible. The employee must notify their Line Manager that she is pregnant, the expected week of childbirth (a MATB1 must be submitted) and when she wishes to commence Maternity Leave.

There is no requirement at this stage, for the employee to state that they intend to exercise their right to additional Maternity Leave. The presumption is that the employee will take additional Maternity Leave unless notification is received that the employee intends to return early and therefore the employee will not lose the right to return after additional Maternity Leave. However, the employee should notify their Line Manager of the actual date of birth of their child.

Commencing Maternity Leave

An employee can commence Maternity Leave anytime between the 11th week before the EWC and the EDC or the actual date of birth which ever is the sooner.

If the employee subsequently wants to change the date from which she wishes her leave to start, she should notify her employer at least 28 days beforehand (or, if this is not possible, as soon as is reasonably practicable beforehand).

If during the period between the 4th week before the EWC and the date that the employee intends to commence Maternity Leave, the employee is absent due to illness, either related to pregnancy or not, then their Maternity Leave will normally commence from the beginning of the fourth week before the EWC or the beginning of the next week after the employee last worked, whichever is the later. Absence prior to the last four weeks before the EWC, supported by a medical statement of incapacity for work, or a self-certificate, shall be treated as sick leave in accordance with normal leave provisions.

Odd days of pregnancy related illness during this period may be disregarded if the employee is medically fit to continue working until the maternity leave start date previously notified to the employer.

Notification of intention to return to work

There is no requirement for the employee to give notice of their intention to return to work at the end of the ordinary Maternity Leave period, unless the employee is returning early, in which case they must give at least 28 days’notice.

In the cases of where an employee decides to apply for the additional Maternity Leave, they should let NHS Fife know as soon as possible that they wish to extend their maternity leave and a letter will be sent to them to confirm when the additional Maternity Leave will end.

Postponement of Return

There are no provisions for the postponement of return to work by NHS Fife after an employee has taken additional Maternity Leave. There are also no provisions for the postponement of return to work by the employee after additional Maternity Leave. If the employee is unable to return to work on health grounds, the normal absence policy and procedures apply.

Shared Parental Leave

Employees can nominate the biological father, adoptive partner who is not the primary carer, partner or their husband to have up to 26 weeks’ additional paternity leave if they return to work and meet certain criteria. If Employees wish to make this nomination they should indicate this on their maternity leave application form.

Pay or maternity leave can only be given providing the employee has returned to work and all relevant pay has been stopped at least two weeks before the end of the 39 week leave period. Employees are therefore required to provide their partner with a confirmation letter from NHS Fife that they have returned to work and all payments have ceased.

Employees not returing to NHS Employment

If an employee does not wish to return to work after the birth of their child, and they have more than 26 weeks continuous service at the 15th week before the EWC, they will be entitled to the following: -

6 weeks Statutory Maternity Pay at 90% of their salary, with a further period of 33 weeks paid at the lower rate of SMP which will count as service with NHS Fife.

If an employee does not wish to return to work after the birth of their child, and they have less than 26 weeks continuous service at the 15th week before the EWC, this will be treated as a normal resignation. The employee may still be entitled to receive MA through the benefits agency.

Early Deliveries

If an employee’s baby is born earlier than the eleventh week before the EWC and they have worked during the actual week of childbirth, their maternity leave and pay will commence on the first day of their absence.

If an employee’s baby is born earlier than the eleventh week before the EWC and they have been absent from work on certified sickness absence during the actual week of childbirth, their maternity leave and pay will commence from the day after the day of birth.

If, as a result of early childbirth, their baby has to remain in hospital, they may with NHS Fife’s agreement choose to split their maternity leave, taking a minimum period of 2 weeks leave immediately after childbirth and then return to work, taking the remainder of their leave once their baby has been discharged from hospital.

If they have submitted their application for maternity leave which will indicate the date they intend their maternity leave to commence and their baby is born prior to this date they must notify the Human Resources Department as soon as practicable, as this may effect their maternity pay entitlements.

The employee should submit medical evidence of the date of birth, to their line manager, within 28 days of having their baby.

Miscarriages / Still Births

Where an employee’s baby is still born after the 24th week of pregnancy, the employee will be entitled to the same amount of maternity leave and pay as if her baby had been born alive.

Where an employee suffers a miscarriage before the 24th week of pregnancy, normal sick leave provisions will apply as necessary.

Contractual Rights

During the maternity leave period, in accordance with current legislation (sections 72 and 73 of the Employment Rights Act 1996), employees retain all contractual rights with the exception of remuneration.

During the maternity leave period, an employee remains bound by her implied obligation of good faith and any terms and conditions relating to her obligation to give notice of termination, disclosure of confidential information, acceptance of gifts or other benefits, and participation in any other business.

Fixed Term / Training Contracts

An employee on a fixed term or training contract, satisfying the conditions for paid entitlement to leave, and whose contract expires 11 weeks before the EWC, will have their contracts extended to enable them to receive 39 weeks paid leave, and the remaining 13 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. If the right to return to work cannot be exercised because of the termination of the contract, pay cannot be reclaimed.

If employees are on a planned rotation, as part of an agreed programme of training, they have the right to return to work in the same post or in the next planned post within the same or another Health Authority, to enable them to complete the programme of training.

Sickness following the end of Maternity Leave

In the event of illness following the date the employee was due to return to work normal sick pay provisions will apply if necessary.


Absence on Maternity Leave whether paid or unpaid shall count towards the normal annual increment on an employee’s scale in accordance with the relevant conditions of service and will not defer the normal incremental date. For staff covered by Agenda for Change Terms and Conditions of Service, the expectation is that whilst on maternity leave the employee would progress through a KSF gateway on the due date, if concerns had not been raised about their ability to meet their KSF outline prior to maternity leave.

Annual Leave & Public Holidays

Annual leave and public holidays will continue to accrue during maternity leave, whether paid or unpaid. *This may have implications when approaching a new leave year, therefore, it is advisable to take leave before and / or after the maternity leave period. The amount of annual leave taken in this way, or carried over, should be discussed and agreed between the employee and their Line Manager, prior to the commencement of the period of maternity leave.

Please note that NHS Fife's current policy is to authorise up to a maximum of one working week of basic contracted hours of carry forward annual leave. *However, where someone is commencing or returning from maternity leave extremely close to the end or beginning of their leave year, consideration will be given to applying the same principle as when off on sick leave and it spans a leave year, which enables a carry forward of any balance of statutory leave less any leave already taken. Statutory leave equates to 28 days (pro-rata for part-time staff) and includes any public holidays taken as well as annual leave taken.

Maternity leave, paid and unpaid, shall count as service when calculating additional annual leave entitlement for long service, if appropriate.

Keeping in Touch

Before going on leave employees should discuss with their Line Manager and agree any voluntary arrangements for keeping in touch whilst on maternity leave, this could include;

Any voluntary arrangements that they may find helpful to help them keep in touch with developments at work and, nearer the time of their return, to help facilitate their return to work.

Employees will be allowed to work up to a maximum of 10 days without bringing their maternity leave to an end or losing SMP or extending their maternity leave period. These days are called Keeping in Touch Days (KIT). KIT days are intended to help facilitate a smooth return to work.

An employee may not work during the 2 weeks of compulsory maternity leave immediately after the birth of her baby.

The work can be consecutive or not and working any part of a day will count as one KIT day. Employees will be paid at their basic daily rate, for the hours worked less appropriate Occupational Maternity Pay paid, for KIT days worked. NHS Fife is not obliged to offer work and employees are not obliged to accept it.

Postnatal Care

Employees who have recently given birth should have paid time off for post-natal care, e.g. attendance at health clinics. Evidence of such appointments should be provided if required.

Employees should endeavour to give their line manager as much notice as possible, and where possible, try to arrange them out with working hours, or as near to the start or the end of the working day as possible. However, it is recognised that this may not necessarily be possible.


Superannuation rights and contributions shall be dealt with in accordance with the NHS Scotland Superannuation Scheme Regulations. Employees are required to maintain payment of their contributions for the period of unpaid leave and arrangements to repay the appropriate contributions will be made with the Payroll Department after their return to work.

Alternatively, employees can arrange to opt-out of the scheme during their period of maternity leave but the responsibility for rejoining the scheme, on return to work, lies with the employee


Employees are entitled to the right not to suffer unfair treatment at work for reasons relating to pregnancy, childbirth or taking Maternity Leave and to return to the same job.

Employees who are pregnant or who exercise their right to their entitlement to Maternity Leave are protected against dismissal or any other action, which is in connection with the fact, that they are pregnant or have exercised their right to take up their entitlement to Maternity Leave. This includes if an employer prevents or attempts to prevent them from taking Maternity Leave.

This does not negate an employee’s responsibility for ensuring that they notify their Line Manager of their intention to take Maternity Leave.

Payroll Documentation

The Line Manager, is responsible for ensuring that the Payroll Department have been advised of an employees’ intention to exercise their right to Maternity Leave, as well as the dates on which the employee will be absent due to Maternity Leave.

Additional Information

Information in respect of car user status, health and safety and risk assessments, flexible working, breastfeeding facilities are contained within the Maternity Guidelines for employees.

Associated Documents:

Appendix 1 – Maternity Guidance

Maternity Entitlements Guideline

Maternity Leave/ Pay Application Form

Pregnancy Related Illness


In order to assist with the understanding of the terminology used within this policy a detailed glossary is given below:


Childbirth resulting in the birth of a living child, or labour after 24 weeks of pregnancy resulting in the birth of a child whether alive or dead.

Actual week of childbirth (AWC)

The week in which the baby is born.

Expected week of childbirth (EWC)

The week in which the baby is expected to be born.

Expected Date of confinement (EDC)

The date on which the baby is expected to be born.

Maternity Allowance (MA)

Weekly benefit paid by the Benefits Agency to pregnant women not eligible for SMP.

Maternity Pay Period (MPP)

Period in which SMP is paid.

Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML)

Period of 39 weeks leave available to all employees.

Extended Maternity Leave (EML)

Further period of 13 weeks leave available to all employees.

Qualifying Week (QW)

The 15th week before the EWC.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

Weekly payment made by the employer. Payable for a maximum of 39 weeks, for those employees entitled to it. Payable at two rates, lower and higher.

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