Firstly, congratulations! You will be making a lot of new plans about the future right now and it is important that you know what you are entitled to under Police Regulations from today until you return to work after your maternity leave.
Do I have to tell the Force that I am pregnant?
The SPF encourages you to tell your line manager as soon as practicable so that proper protective measures can be put in place to protect you and your unborn child. When you are around 21 weeks pregnant your GP or midwife will give you a certificate (Mat B1) for your employer showing that you are pregnant. You MUST advise the Force that you are pregnant no later than 28 days before your baby is due or you will not comply with the requirements for Statutory Maternity Pay.
Can I continue to work as normal?
There is no reason why, if any identified risks are managed properly, that you cannot continue to work throughout your pregnancy. The Force is required to have Generic Risk Assessments available to all women who are pregnant or planning to have a baby which outline any risks for those trying to get pregnant or in the early stages of pregnancy.
But my pregnancy may be different to others?
Which is why, once you inform your line manager of your pregnancy, the Force is deemed to know that you are pregnant and must ensure that a specific risk assessment is carried out. This should be undertaken by your manager in consultation with you and, if necessary, the Occupational Health Department, the Force Medical Advisor and/or your own GP or obstetrician. The process should always include you and you should be provided with a copy of the completed risk assessment. The risk assessment should be reviewed at regular intervals during your pregnancy to highlight and identify any changes in your needs.
The Force wants to remove me from my current duties and have me working in an office. Can they do this?
If the risk assessment highlights any risks to you or your unborn child in the role you are currently performing the Force must take reasonable steps to remove or reduce those risks. This may involve adjusting your conditions and/or hours of work or providing you with an alternative role. This does not mean that the Force should be risk averse as many women work throughout their pregnancy with little or no problems.
What if the Force cannot reduce or remove the risks?
In these circumstances the Force should give you paid leave for as long as is necessary, until you can return to work or you go onto maternity leave.
Am I entitled to time off for ante-natal care?
Yes, you are entitled to reasonable time off to attend appointments for ante-natal care made on the advice of your GP, midwife or health visitor. The time off will be paid if the appointment is in duty time. There is no limit to how much time off you can take for ante-natal care but, after your first appointment, you can be asked to show an appointment card or other document showing that an appointment has been made for you.
What maternity leave am I entitled to?
As a police officer you are not eligible for Statutory Maternity Leave. You are eligible for Police Maternity Leave under Police Regulations. This is 15 months leave within an 18 month period starting from 6 months prior to the birth of your baby until 12 months after. You can take your leave in more than one block, but this could affect your maternity pay (see below).
You must notify the Force of the dates that you want to start and finish your maternity leave. You can change these dates if you give the Force 21 days notice. However, the Force cannot change these dates. Your Police Maternity Leave (and Occupational Maternity Pay) will start on the date you notified, even if your baby is born early. This is not the case with Statutory Maternity Pay; if your baby arrives early, your SMP will start the day after your baby is born.
What maternity pay am I entitled to?
If you meet the eligibility rules, you will be entitled to Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP) and Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). The pay you receive each week depends on the timing of your maternity leave. The eligibility and payment rules differ for OMP and SMP. If you are eligible for both OMP and SMP in a week only the higher is paid
Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP)
If you have 63 weeks continuous service as a police officer (in any Force) before the expected week of childbirth and you are pregnant or have given birth 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth, you are entitled to Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP) which is 18 weeks on full pay. You can choose to take the last 5 weeks of this leave on half pay this would mean that you would receive 13 weeks on full pay followed by 10 weeks on half pay plus a sum equivalent to half statutory maternity pay (SMP) for each of those 10 weeks.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
Although you are not eligible for Statutory Maternity Leave, you will receive Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) if you have 26 weeks continuous service in the Force as a police officer by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth and you are pregnant at the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth or have already given birth.
SMP is paid for up to 39 weeks – the first 6 weeks is paid at 90% of full pay followed by 33 weeks of SMP at the lower rate. The lower rate of SMP changes each year in April; in 2019 it is £148.68
If you are still at work but go off sick within the 4 weeks before the baby is expected, then your SMP will start automatically. This is not the case with OMP which will start on the date you had notified that your Police Maternity Leave is to start.
What about my annual leave entitlement?
Your annual leave entitlement will accrue throughout your maternity leave and you can take this, before, during or after your maternity leave. If you take it during the SMP paid period, your SMP will not recommence when you return to maternity leave. If you take it during the unpaid part of your maternity leave it could adversely impact on the cost of buying back your pensionable service.
Do I have to maintain contact with the Force when I am on maternity leave?
Often people who are away from the workplace for a protracted period of time become disassociated and that in itself can cause frustrations. It is good practice for your line manager to agree with you a form of contact that suits you and your needs whilst allowing the Force to keep you properly updated with news of your workplace.
Can I break my maternity leave?
You can take your maternity leave in more than one block providing you take no more than 15 months in total in the 18 months starting 6 months before your baby is expected and ending 12 months after.
However, if you return to work or go on annual leave during the period you are receiving SMP, your entitlement to SMP will end and will not be restarted when you go back onto maternity leave. This is not the case with OMP which can be restarted.
If you return to work or go onto annual leave during any unpaid part of your leave it could adversely affect the cost of the buy-back of your pensionable service (1987 and 2006 PPS only).
Can I be recalled to duty during my maternity leave?
You cannot be required to work within 2 weeks of giving birth. Thereafter you should only be recalled to duty for exceptional reasons such as court or to attend a misconduct hearing.
What compensation am I entitled to if I am recalled to duty whilst on paid maternity leave?
You are entitled to be compensated for any hours that you work if you are recalled to duty. It is up to you whether you receive pay or TOIL for this work.
If you are on SMP and take pay for the hours you work under the SMP rules you will have been deemed to have returned to work and will not be able to restart your SMP if you go back onto maternity leave, It may be better to take the time as TOIL at the end of your maternity period or take a Keeping in Touch (KIT) day.
What are Keeping in Touch days?
Keeping in Touch (KIT) days allow women officers on maternity leave to return to work on a voluntary basis for up to a maximum of 10 days during their maternity leave. KIT days should be agreed in advance between you and the Force and can be used to allow you to attend training courses, keep up to date with changes at work or just to keep in close contact with your workplace. In fact, KIT days could provide real benefits for you whilst you are on your maternity leave.
A risk assessment will also be undertaken to ensure that you are fit and able to undertake the work but also that any risks are properly managed and reduced.
Will I be paid for working a KIT day?
You will receive your normal hourly rate for the hours you work on a KIT day in addition to your SMP for that week so can be used to enhance your pay whilst helping you remain in contact with your workplace. Whatever number of hours you work on a KIT day will count as one KIT day. A KIT day will not affect your eligibility for SMP; your SMP will restart when you return to maternity leave. KIT days will not however extend your total leave entitlement.
The pay you receive for working on a KIT day is pensionable.
What notice must I give the Force when returning to work after my maternity leave?
You must give at least 21 days written notice of your intention to return to work, or to change your date of return. This gives the Force time to ensure that a risk assessment is carried out on your return.
I want to return to work but am still breastfeeding, can I do this?
The Force should make every effort to facilitate this on your return and you should give them written notification of your intention to continue breastfeeding on your return to work. A specific risk assessment will be required to be undertaken by the Force to ensure any risks are minimised and so that any specific needs are facilitated (this may include additional rest periods to allow you to attend to your baby out with the workplace or suitable facilities to express and store milk at work).
What about my pension when I am on maternity leave?
Any period of paid maternity pay will count towards your pensionable service. Pension contributions paid at your usual pension percentage rate will be deducted from any pay you receive. You will accrue pension throughout your maternity paid leave as if you were still at work. If you are a member of the 1987 or 2006 PPS you can buy-back unpaid maternity leave at the rate of the last pay you received whilst on maternity leave – in most cases this will be SMP at the lower rate. Under the 2015 PPS pensionable service buy-back is the relevant percentage of your normal pay.
Is any of my maternity leave reckonable for service?
You can reckon a period of up to 52 weeks for service, pay and leave purposes when on maternity leave.
What if I am not well enough to return to work at the conclusion of my maternity leave?
In these circumstances the Police Service of Scotland Regulations 2013 in relation to sickness absence will apply.
What about my voluntary contributions and insurance payments to the Scottish Police Federation?
When you are on maternity leave and cease to receive any pay from the Force you must continue to pay your voluntary fund contributions and insurance premiums to remain within the insurance scheme you.
If you opt not to continue in the scheme you can only be accepted back into it on successful completion of a medical questionnaire. Any additional medical examinations required by the insurers will be at your own cost.
If you have any further questions that are specific to your own circumstances you should contact your local Area Equality Lead representative who will be happy to assist you further.