As an NHS worker, you will be entitled to a certain degree of maternity or paternity leave. For ease of structure, we’ll first talk about maternity leave and pay, and then explain how this leads to shared parental leave (SPL).
All pregnant employees are entitled to a period of 52 weeks’ maternity leave. This is statutory and applies to everyone regardless of employer. You don’t have to take all 52 weeks, but you must take two weeks’ leave after your baby is born.
In the NHS, this period can be extended by local agreement, in exceptional circumstances like preterm or multiple births.
The amount you’re paid for this time varies based on how long you’ve been with the NHS continuously. For junior doctors in England, this can be with one or more NHS employers, and changes due to rotations will still count as continuous service.
Some breaks in service, including out of programme (OOP) placements approved by a Postgraduate Dean, can be disregarded and will not affect continuous service.
If you will be with the NHS for 12 months or more, continuously, by the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth, you would be entitled to Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP). OMP is determined by the NHS, and is the following:
- 8 weeks of full pay
- 18 weeks of half-pay
- 13 weeks of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance (MA) only – we will explain what these are later on
- 13 weeks of unpaid leave
Your full pay (or half-pay) is determined as your average salary over the eight weeks prior to the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.
If you will be with the NHS for 26 weeks or more, continuously, by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth, you would be entitled to SMP. SMP is determined by the government, and is the following:
- 6 weeks of 90% of your usual pay
- 33 weeks of flat-rate SMP (for 2020-21 this is £151.20 per week). Tax and National Insurance will be deducted from this.
If you don’t qualify for either of these, you will be entitled to MA. This may be, for example, if you will have only worked less than 26 weeks with the NHS, by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. MA is the following:
- £151.20 per week for 39 weeks
To qualify for MA you need to have been employed for at least 26 weeks out of the prior 66 weeks before your expected week of childbirth.
If you will be entitled to both SMP and OMP, you will be paid the following:
- 8 weeks of full pay, less any SMP or MA
- 18 weeks’ half pay plus any SMP or MA (providing the total does not exceed full pay)
- 13 weeks’ SMP or MA
- 13 weeks’ unpaid leave.
You can check whether you are eligible for SMP or MA using an online calculator on gov.uk.
All employees who are new fathers, or partners of a mother, are entitled to two weeks paternity leave after birth or adoption.
Paternity leave must be taken on or after the birth or adoption of the baby.
To be eligible for paternity leave, you must
- Have worked continuously for the same employer for the 26 weeks prior to the 15th week before the baby is due, and
- Be still working with the same employment up to the date of birth
For junior doctors in England, this can be with one or more NHS employers, and changes due to rotations will still count as continuous service.
You will also be allowed unpaid time off to attend a minimum of two antenatal or adoption appointments.
If you have been in continuous NHS employment for 12 months up to the beginning of the week the baby is due, you will be entitled to two weeks of full pay, less any statutory paternity pay received (described below).
If you do not meet the above criteria, you will be eligible for statutory paternity pay, which is the same as maternity pay (£151.20 per week for 2020-21).
Shared Parental Leave (SPL)
Shared Parental Leave (SPL) is a statutory right (enshrined in law) which provides eligible parents more flexibility in how the care of their child is shared in the first year following birth or adoption.
SPL is in addition to maternity and paternity leave and pay, but it must be used within a year of the baby’s arrival.
In addition to the two weeks of mandatory maternity leave and two weeks of optional paternity leave, SPL allows 50 weeks of leave to be split between both parents.
To qualify for SPL, both parents must meet the eligibility criteria. The criteria can be different depending on whether it is a birth or adoption. The best way of determining if you and your partner meet the criteria is through the online calculator on gov.uk.
Standard statutory pay for SPL is the same as maternity leave (£151.20 per week for 2020-21). If