Maternity leave and pay - Section 15

Maternity ward

Maternity Leave - Section 15 

All pregnant employees, regardless of their length of service in the NHS or hours of work, are entitled to a period of 52 weeks maternity leave. This is made up of: 

  • 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave (OML) and: 
  • 26 weeks of additional maternity leave (AML), beginning the day after OML finishes.

Some of the Key Points: 

NHS occupational maternity pay (OMP)

  • Eligibility: 
    • Employees must have 12 months’ continuous service with the NHS by the eleventh week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) and:
    • Intend to return to work in the NHS for a minimum of 3 months. 

Occupational pay will be made up of: 

8 weeks 
Full pay 
18 weeks 
Half pay
Remaining 26 weeks
Unpaid leave

Statutory maternity pay (SMP)

  • Eligibility:
    • To qualify for statutory maternity pay an employee has to have 26 weeks continuous service with the one (current) employer by the beginning of the fifteenth week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC). Statutory pay will be made up of: 
 6 weeks
 90 per cent of their normal pay
 33 weeks 
 Flat rate SMP (or 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings, whichever is the lower)
 Remaining 13 weeks 
 Unpaid leave

  • Employees who do not qualify for SMP, whether due to the statutory continuous employment rule or because of another aspect of eligibility, may be entitled to claim maternity allowance.

Statutory maternity pay (SMP) and NHS occupational maternity pay (OMP)

  • If an employee qualifies for both SMP and NHS OMP this will be made up of: 
8 weeks 
Full pay less any SMP/SMA receivable 
18 weeks

Half pay plus the flat rate of SMP (or average weekly earnings, whichever is lower) providing the total does not exceed full pay
13 weeks
Flat rate SMP (or 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings, whichever is the lower  
Remaining 13 weeks Unpaid leave 

This page should be read in conjunction with the maternity leave and occupational maternity pay provisions which can be found in Section 15 of the NHS terms and conditions of service handbook

Further information:

If you are a member of staff and have a query, please contact your HR team or local trade union representative.

Employers should send queries to

Other useful sources of information:

ACAS - Parents and carers section

Directgov - Pregnancy and maternity rights in the workplace 

HMRC - NI 17A - A guide to maternity benefits

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