Employment benefits during maternity leave

This guidance was last updated on January 2015

During the whole period of maternity leave the employee is entitled to receive all her contractual benefits with the exception of remuneration. This includes all non-cash benefits such as childcare vouchers.

Please note: If an employee is currently using University childcare tax saving schemes (ie the nursery fee salary sacrifice scheme or the childcare vouchers scheme) it is important that they seek advice about the changes which occur within these schemes during the unpaid period of maternity leave. Further information can be obtained by contacting the Childcare Services team at childcarefinance@admin.ox.ac.uk or on 01865 (2) 89835 or visit the Childcare Services web pages.

Annual Leave

Contractual annual leave (including bank holidays and fixed closure days) will accrue throughout the full 52 weeks of maternity leave.

Departments may wish to ask women to take any accrued annual leave prior to their maternity leave. Departments may also ask that a woman takes at least 28 days' annual leave (the annual statutory holiday requirement) before she goes on maternity leave if she will not return to work before the end of the current leave year. In the event that a maternity leave period crosses over two annual leave years, the employing department may ask a woman returning to work to use up the balance of her annual leave from the leave year that has ended at the end of her maternity leave period. It is not possible for an employee to take annual leave at the same time as maternity leave. This will assist departments in managing the larger amounts of annual leave that will be accrued during maternity leave.

However, departments retain the right to make annual leave arrangements with their employees to fit in with operational requirements. Women must agree when they will take annual leave in advance with their department, and they may wish to consider retaining some of their annual leave to allow them to take time off as required to look after their children should they be ill, or need some additional support whilst settling into a nursery or with new childcarers. It should be clarified to the employee early on that whilst a small amount of paid leave is available to staff for dealing with domestic emergencies, this is not intended to cover foreseeable domestic problems such those outlined above, and in most cases it would be anticipated that annual leave would be used to cover such circumstances.

If a woman wishes to take annual leave at the end of her maternity leave period, she is deemed to have returned to work at the notified date and then she may take her annual leave as agreed with her department.


When an employee is on maternity leave, her normal employee contributions to her pension will continue to be deducted at the appropriate rate while she is on full pay and when she is on statutory maternity pay. The University will also continue to make its contributions at the appropriate rate. When the employee is on zero pay, no contributions are payable by either her or the University.

If, when she returns to work, she would like to make up the pensions contributions that she did not pay because she was on reduced or zero pay during maternity leave, the employee may do so. The Pensions Office will be able to advise the employee on her individual situation.

Sickness during/at the end of maternity leave

The University follows the same rules as are applied to statutory payments and sick pay cannot be claimed at the same time as maternity pay. Employees are therefore disqualified from receiving sick pay until the period of paid maternity pay has ended.

If an employee comes to the end of maternity leave and is too ill to return to work, because of childbirth or some other reason, she should still notify the department in the normal way that she wishes to return to work. If she remains too ill to return to work after the date on which she was intending to return to work, she must provide the department with a medical certificate and should be treated as though she had returned to work and was absent from work due to sickness.

The University sick leave scheme only covers the sickness of the employee and not sickness suffered by any of their dependents.