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Managers maternity guide




The University have approved a manager guide and checklist to be used to help you support your employee through their pregnancy, maternity leave and when they return to work.

Before maternity leave

Employees must inform you (and their Human Resources contact) by the 15th week before the baby is due (e.g. by approximately 25 weeks' pregnant) in order to qualify for maternity leave and pay. However, the laws which protect the employee at work whilst pregnant only apply once the University knows that they are pregnant.

Once the University knows that the employee is pregnant they are entitled to have paid time off to keep appointments for antenatal care, including reasonable time for relaxation or parent craft classes. We ask employees to try, whenever possible, to arrange appointments at times which cause the minimum disruption to work or other work colleagues. If you request it, your employee should provide a certificate confirming their pregnancy, an appointment card, or some other documentary evidence to evidence an appointment (other than for their first appointment). The employee is protected from unfair treatment connected with their pregnancy as soon as they have notified the University.

When an employee has formally announced that she is pregnant, a line manager or nominated person should familiarise themselves with the health and safety standard for New and Expectant Mothers. You should then (in agreement with the new or expectant mother) assess the risks of the work by completing a New and expectant mothers risk assessment tool. This risk assessment must be completed with the employee as soon as possible after you have been informed of the pregnancy. If necessary, support is available from your HR contact, Occupational Health Service or our Health and Safety team.

Once the risk assessment has been carried out managers are then required to take action against any risks which have been highlighted as medium or high. If necessary, you must take steps to reduce the risk to the new or expectant mother by altering the working condition, hours of work, or by finding a suitable alternative working location, where feasible, in consultation with your HR contact. If you need any advice please contact the Occupational Health Service.

It is recommended that this risk assessment is reviewed and updated in each trimester of the employee's pregnancy, or more frequently if required by the employee. Please record all updates on the assessment form by dating and signing the updated assessment together with the employee. All risk assessments should be recorded and stored securely by the manager. Copies will be sent to HR for the new or expectant mother’s HR record and to the new or expectant mother.

If your member of staff travels overseas in their role, the University’s insurance includes medical emergencies arising from a pregnancy, but not routine medical appointments relating to pregnancy. For more information please check the University’s travel insurance webpages before you travel.

What your employee is entitled to is covered in the Maternity procedure document and on the web pages. Please check that your employee has read and understood the HR Maternity web pages which details all entitlements and that they have made an appointment to meet with their HR contact if they wish to.

Ensure you have discussed and agreed with your employee any additional arrangements required during the pregnancy, i.e. antenatal appointments, workload allocation, rest breaks, but remember this will need to be an on-going dialogue.

Consider the effect of the maternity leave on workloads within your team. Does the role need to be covered in some way during the Maternity Leave? If you wish to recruit a fixed term cover post please discuss this with your Recruitment contact.   

Grant implications must be discussed with the relevant Research Services team. The terms and conditions of the funding agreement should be checked. For example, what are the regulations relating to this grant? Is it possible to cover the work? Is it possible to seek an extension?

If an employee takes maternity leave before they have completed their probation period, the maternity leave will pause the probation period. Ensure regular meetings carry on throughout their pregnancy and ensure they are aware that the probation period will continue after they return from maternity leave. Once they have returned ensure that meetings are scheduled in so work can be monitored within the probation period. If you have any concerns about performance speak to your HR contact immediately.

If you are an academic manager please ensure you are aware of your College Guidance on parents and carers which will contain more information about how you can support your academic colleague.

If your employee is currently in the PDP programme it may be appropriate to discuss reduced targets if the employee has a significant period of time out of the workplace, see the Exeter Academic web pages for further information. The quality, however, is not reduced.

Ensure you have carried out a review of current targets and agree a date for setting new targets when they return from maternity leave.

Check that your employee has read the HR pages relating to international staff and maternity leave and pay

Tier 2: Please ensure the HR Immigration team are aware that your employee is on a Tier 2 visa. The University will need to notify UKVI that their pay will be affected due to a period of maternity leave. Please contact a Helen Belcher, HR Immigration Manager ( for further advice.

Agree with your employee the appropriate communication of their pregnancy with colleagues and key stakeholders.

Before your employee has begun their period of Maternity Leave, talk to your employee to agree what kind of contact you will have. Ensure you are both clear about contact during this time. For example:

  • Does the employee wish to be updated about changes happening at work? If so, how would they like changes to be communicated? e.g. assign someone in the department to write a weekly/fortnightly digest
  • Would the employee like the opportunity to attend work during their Maternity Leave to keep in touch, go to a particular event or take up a training opportunity?

Keeping in Touch (KIT) days are a provision under the Work and Families Act 2006, particularly intended to help employees on maternity leave with the process of resuming work and to enable employers to maintain better contact and encourage more open communication with women on maternity leave.

These days are optional and the decision to undertake a KIT day must be made by agreement between you and your employee (there are no rights for either the employer or the employee to require such days).

  • there can be up to 10 KIT days taken during the period of maternity leave
  • the type of work can be anything that your employee would normally do and be paid for, and could include attendance on training courses and at conferences
  • they will not be paid for attending KIT days, nor will it be possible for the University to meet any additional childcare costs. However, for each KIT day, their physical return to work will be deferred by one day. They and you will not see these days in Trent and they can’t be booked at a later date. For example, if they were due to return to work on Monday 2 April and worked 5 KIT days, for payroll purposes they would be treated as returning to work on Monday 2 April, but would not physically return until Monday 9 April (example for full time worker Monday – Friday). If KIT days occur during the period when they are receiving Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), payment of SMP will not be affected
  • any work carried out on any KIT day will count as one full day
  • for health and safety reasons they must not work during the first two weeks after the baby is born
  • employees should not bring babies/children into work on KIT days.

By maintaining a minimal, but regular, presence during maternity leave - bearing in mind there is no obligation for the employee to do so - Keeping in Touch days can offer real benefit to the University and the employee.

Discuss with your employee how they wish to use their annual leave prior to and after the maternity leave period. They should be advised to take as much outstanding leave as possible before the start of their maternity leave. As a minimum, they are required to take the annual leave they have accrued up to the date they commence their maternity leave, e.g. if they wish to commence their maternity leave on 1 February, they should have taken 1/12th of their leave entitlement. However, you can also agree to allow your employee to take more than the period accrued up to the start of their maternity leave. It is important that your employee has booked all their leave in trent and you have approved it before they go on maternity leave.

Your employee will continue to accrue annual leave during the period of maternity leave which can be taken when their maternity leave finishes. Leave should be taken within the year in which it is accrued, except in those circumstances where their period of maternity leave continues into the next calendar year (and, therefore, a new annual leave year). In such cases, any outstanding leave may be carried forward to the following year, providing it is taken in full, immediately following the period of maternity leave. Payment in lieu of annual leave cannot be made. During their maternity leave, bank holidays and closure days that fall on days they would have worked, will be marked as 'not taken' in Trent and will not be deducted from their holiday entitlement. Employees can then book them as leave on their return.

Annual leave for academic staff is based on a full-time entitlement of 30 days plus 8 bank holidays and 3 closure days designated by the University. The contractual requirement for academic staff that leave must be taken during vacation periods will be waived where outstanding leave is taken either immediately before or after a period of maternity leave.

The normal absence process for your Faculty/Department/Service should be followed. Further information can be found on the absence webpages.

However, if your employee is off sick with a pregnancy-related illness during the four weeks before their baby is due (approximately 36 weeks' pregnant onwards) their maternity leave and pay may start automatically. In this instance, you must ensure your employee has contacted HR.

You may need to ask your staff member to return equipment (laptops, mobile phones, keys to buildings/offices) during their maternity leave, especially if you are employing cover.  For example .


  • If they have an iPhone or iPad they must disable iCloud and Find-my-iPhone and ‘restore to factory settings’ before they hand them back.
  • If they have an AppleID linked to their staff email account please ask them to manage their Apple ID to change this to a private email account before they go on leave if someone else will be using it.

During Maternity Leave

If the baby is born early please ensure that HR have also been made aware of this as it can have implications regarding payroll and agreed dates.

Once your employee has begun their maternity leave it is really important that you maintain the agreed contact with your employee. It is important to keep employees updated of any formal changes that might be happening in their team or the University. Invite them to any social events your team is having. They may not wish to or be able to come but it’s nice to be asked and can combat feelings of isolation.

During maternity leave an employees plans for their return to work may change. If the employee gives the correct notice (at least 8 weeks’ notice) then this is perfectly acceptable to do. If your employee indicates that they do wish to change their plans please contact your HR contact to discuss them. They may also begin to think about changing their hours or days so consider any flexible working applications, you receive using the flexible working procedure.

If you and your employee decide to make use of KIT days ensure that these are productive and effective. Please ensure you have discussed this with your employee and agreed for their physical return to work date to be delayed accordingly.  HR do not need to be informed.

You will have kept up a dialogue whilst your employee is on maternity leave and when it gets nearer to their return to work it is important to discuss and agree the plans for the return to work, i.e. risk assessments, breastfeeding arrangements (if relevant), re-induction and workload.

You should be aware of the date your employee is due to return to work. If this date changes please liaise with HR to ensure they are aware. Your employee may have been out of the workplace for a significant amount of time and returning to work can be a daunting prospect. Create an appropriate re-induction programme for the member of staff, suitable to the length of time they have had away from the workplace. Use the new staff induction webpages and amend as appropriate. Also consider practical arrangements like office arrangement/work area for your employee’s return. Have they got everything they need to do their job when they return?

Consider additional support the employee may need upon their return, it is best practice to offer regular 1:1 meetings to ensure they are being supported in the right way. If you meet before they return to work then you could consider and identify any potential training requirements for their return.

If they have been off for less than 26 weeks then they are entitled to return to their old job, if they have taken more than 26 weeks then they are entitled to return to their job unless it’s not reasonably practicable (e.g. the job no longer exists).

Employees may wish to return to work on a different basis. Visit the university's flexible working webpages for more information. If you have any further queries do not hesitate to contact HR.

After Maternity Leave/ Returning to work

Please ensure that you have made arrangements for when and where they need to go on their first day (office moves or a chnage to hybrid working may mean this is not where they used to work), like you would for a new starter. It is a good idea as their manager to meet with them for a 1:1 on their first day or very soon afterwards.

Take the time to check that your employee is well. Coming back to work can be a difficult time. Be supportive. Allow time for them to catch up and get back up to speed. This meeting is a great opportunity to go through their re-induction and any meetings you have arranged for them. Use this meeting to review and update the risk assessment to reflect the new needs of the employee or if not appropriate then arrange a time to do this.

If they are on probation restart the probation period and arrange a meeting to reset targets and arrange regular review meetings after this. If they have completed probation then arrange a PDR meeting at this stage to allow them a few weeks to settle back in. An employee should always have targets set and previous targets reviewed, where appropriate.

If you did not meet before they returned to work you may now need to consider and identify any potential training requirements they have.

Ensure you and they check that their annual leave is correct in trent. In particular check that any leave booked before they return is recorded correctly.

If the staff member is here on a visa, ensure the HR Immigration Manager is aware of the return to work dates so UKVI can be informed.

If an employee is not returning to work, again please notify HR as soon as possible.

If you need any further information or guidance relating to the risk assessments please contact our Health and Safety team.

If your employee is breastfeeding when they return to work they are entitled to have time to express and rest. The University currently provides a room for expressing employees on each of our three campuses - find out about our Nuture rooms. These rooms are all equipped with fridges for the storage of milk.

It is not appropriate to combine homeworking with dependent care and homeworking is not an alternative to paid dependent care. Your employee must not plan to have sole responsibility for a child or other dependent during their working hours. 

There are policies and health and safety issues with bringing children onto campus. Please ensure if you are asked by your employee that you know what your responsibilities are.

Maternity Leave - Manager checklist