NHS staff who are on maternity leave are able to access occupation maternity pay from their NHS employer, in addition to the basic levels of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

This article outlines some of the key NHS maternity pay entitlements and requirements. It also contains a maternity pay calculator that people working in the NHS can use to work out how much maternity pay you might be entitled to.

Similar provisions apply for staff taking adoption leave or shared parental leave. Where they are different this is indicated below.

Maternity Pay Entitlements

The same basic approach applies to staff (including nurses) who are working on Agenda for Change contracts and for doctors on medical terms and conditions.

Anyone who have been working for the NHS for 12 months or more at the beginning of the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth is entitled to the following maternity pay:

  • Eight weeks of full pay, minus any Statutory Maternity Pay or maternity allowance
  • Eighteen weeks of half-pay, plus any Statutory Maternity Pay or maternity allowance
  • Thirteen weeks of Statutory Maternity Pay or maternity allowance
  • Thirteen weeks of maternity leave with no pay

This pay can either be paid as soon as it is due, or can (in agreement with your employer) be spread across the full period of maternity leave.

How to calculate NHS Maternity Pay

The amount you are paid for both contractual and statutory maternity pay is based on your average earnings over the eight weeks before the expected week of childbirth.

There are some minor variations to this, which are dealt with in the relevant terms and conditions – for example, when an employee is expected to move to a new pay point during their maternity leave, when they are already on sick leave when maternity leave begins, and when they expect to take a second period of maternity leave immediately after or shortly after the first.

Similar provisions are in place for pay during adoption leave and for shared parental leave – these will be addressed in separate articles.

You can use the NHS maternity pay calculator below to give an indication of what income you should receive during each week of your maternity leave. For simplicity, it uses your annual salary for the calculation, rather than the average of your earnings over the previous eight weeks.

The calculator is provided for illustrative purposes only and should not be relied on for financial planning. You should take appropriate financial advice, including speaking to your HR and payroll departments, before making any financial plans.

Maternity Pay Calculator

Maternity Pay Calculator

Annual Leave During Maternity Leave

Annual leave and public holidays continue to accrue during maternity leave (and all other forms of adoption and parental leave).

In many cases, staff will want to take this additional annual leave after returning from maternity leave. But it may sometimes be more practical to take some annual leave before starting maternity leave or to receive pay in lieu of accrued annual leave. This is something that should be discussed and agreed with your employer as soon as practical.

NHS Keeping In Touch (KIT) Days

All staff on maternity leave or adoption leave are entitled to take up to 10 Keeping In Touch (KIT) days without losing entitlement to maternity pay. Staff taking Shared Parental Leave are entitled to up to 20 Shared Parental Leave In Touch (SPLiT) days.

These days are designed for things like easing your return to work, allowing you to undertake training, and for your employer to update you on any key changes while you are on maternity leave.

KIT and SPLiT days are voluntary and should be agreed between the employer and employee. An employer cannot insist that an employee takes part in KIT/SPLiT days. Likewise, an employee cannot insist they take KIT/SPLiT days if the employer does not want to offer them.

Pay for KIT days and SPLiT days is at the basic daily rate, minus any applicable Statutory Maternity Pay.

Returning to work after maternity leave

NHS employees are normally required to return to work no later than 15 months after the start of their maternity or adoption leave. Staff on Shared Parental Leave should return no later than 3 months after the end of their leave.

Staff who want to return earlier will need to give 28 days notice.

Should you wish to return to work on different hours or on a different working pattern – either permanently or for a defined period – your employer is obliged to consider your request and has a duty to facilitate it where possible. If you think you might want to take advantage of flexible working, you should contact your HR department as soon as possible.

If you are unable to return to work at the end of your maternity leave because of illness, then the normal rules for sick leave apply. So, in effect, your sick leave would start on the day after your maternity leave ends.

If you decide not to return to work for any other reason then they would normally be liable to repay the full amount of their NHS maternity pay (but would be liable to repay any Statutory Maternity Pay). Employers have discretion to waive their right to recover this money if they believe it would cause undue hardship or distress.

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