Maternity Leave - Guidance for Managers

This guide summarises:

  • The rights of the pregnant employee.
  • Your responsibilities as a manager during her pregnancy, her maternity leave and her return to work.
The guide also provides information on risk assessments, communication during maternity leave and details relating to ‘Keeping in Touch’ Days (KIT).  To read more refer to:

What to do - As soon as your employee tells you she is pregnant.

  1. Carry out a risk assessment to identify any hazards to your employee’s health or that of her unborn child. You should carry this out with input from the employee and advice from your Department/School Safety Officer.  You may want to consult Occupational Health for confidential advice and guidance.  For further information ‘The New and Expectant Mothers at Work Policy’ is available from the Safety Office.
  2. Allow your employee paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments.  You may request that the employee provides evidence of these appointments, with the exception of the first appointment.
  3. Ensure that your employee is not treated less favourably as a result of their pregnancy (including by other colleagues), as this could be seen as Sex Discrimination.
  4. Meet with the employee to discuss her plans for maternity leave.  Avoid going into too much detail about start and return dates for maternity leave, especially before the first scan is completed.
  5. Agree annual leave arrangements prior to maternity leave commencing wherever possible. You can use the annual leave calculators to work out the employee's accrual in the relevant leave years, excluding any days/hours already taken. The employee will accrue annual leave during the entire maternity leave period at the contractual rate pro-rata in addition to Bank Holidays and University closure days (pro-rata for part-time staff). If the maternity leave period is likely to cross two annual leave years and it is impractical to take all the leave in the year in which it was accrued (in line with the annual leave guidance), the employee may carry over the accrued annual leave, but must use these days within three months following their return to work, except where an alternative timescale is agreed with the manager due to operational requirements. Consider if a phased return to work using accrued annual leave can be accommodated to support the return to work process. Please note, your employee cannot return to work for at least two weeks following the birth of their child. The line manager should discuss with their employee what annual leave they are entitled to accrue during their maternity leave. You can find a list of Bank Holiday and University closure days here. If managers need further guidance please contact the Employment Support Services team.
  6. Consider how you will manage your employees’ absence during her maternity leave.  Will you be able to reallocate the work within the Department/School or will you need to take on a temporary member of staff?  In any case, if your employee has indicated that they wish to return to work, you must ensure that they can return to their original job.  The only exception to this would be if your employee has indicated that they wish to take a period of additional maternity leave (i.e. more than 26 weeks).  You may in this instance offer a suitable alternative post on her return, if it is not reasonably practicable for her to return to her original job.  You may wish to refer to the Guidance for Managers on Maternity Cover Issues.
  7. If your employee is off work with a pregnancy-related illness she will be entitled to sick pay just as you would pay her for any other type of illness.  Please note, if this illness is within four weeks of her due date, maternity leave should automatically commence the following day.  Contact Employment Support Services team for advice.

What to do - Whilst your employee is on maternity leave.

  1. You and your employee can make reasonable contact during maternity leave.  What constitutes reasonable will vary according to the individual circumstances and this should be agreed between both parties prior to the commencement of the employees’ maternity leave.  In any case, you should ensure that your employee is kept up-to-date with changes in the workplace.
  2. On agreement with the Head of Department/School/Line Manager and the member of staff, employees may work up to maximum of 10 days during their maternity leave period, known as Keeping in Touch Days.  Please note, employees are not obliged to work these days.  Full details of keeping in touch days can also be found in the University Maternity Policy or in the Family Leave Arrangements Handbook.  You may find a pro-forma called Keeping in Touch During Maternity Leave helpful (an optional agreement between manager and employee) which helps you set out arrangements for keeping in touch during maternity leave.

What to do - Before your employee returns to work.

  1. If your employee intends to return to work before the end of her full maternity leave period (52 weeks) she must give you eight weeks' notice, in writing, of her intention to return.  If she fails to do this, you may delay her return until the appropriate notice is served.
  2. You should ensure that you have discussed with your employee any concerns she may have relating to her return.  She does have the right, under certain circumstances, to request flexible working for which there are guidelines and an application form available in the Work/Life Balance. If a request is made under this right to change the contractual working hours and/or pattern of work, then you should always consider such a request carefully and comply with the procedural guidance and timings stipulated under this process.  If you refuse a request you must objectively justify why e.g. explain why a job has to be done on a full-time basis by one individual, as opposed to two people doing it on a part-time basis or through a job share arrangement.
  3. If you have taken on a temporary member of staff to the cover maternity leave period, you should ensure that you give them the appropriate notice to end their fixed-term contract.
  4. If your employee is breastfeeding you should ensure that arrangements are in place to facilitate this.  You will also need to carry out another risk assessment.
If further advice is required, please contact your Employment Support Services team.


Last edited May 14, 2022