2020 Autumn Term 1

The know zone

  • Time for re-assessment
    The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed many inequalities within the education system, further underlining the need for real change when it comes to primary evaluation, says Primary Specialist Tiffnie Harris. More
  • Parent planning
    Pay and Conditions Specialist Louise Hatswell explains maternity leave and other entitlements for parents-to-be working in the education sector. More
  • Contextualised offers
    Should more universities be giving disadvantaged students a lower offer? Kevin Gilmartin examines the inconsistent and complicated world of contextualised offers. More
  • Project restart
    Business Leadership Specialist Hayley Dunn highlights some of the key changes to reporting for academies and trusts, including resumption of data collections and greater transparency on executive pay. More
  • Words of wisdom
    We asked members to share a top tip for someone starting a new headship role this September and share a book recommendation that may help anyone new to the role. Here's what you said... More
  • A vote of confidence
    Assistant Head Rich Atterton says being on ASCL Council has enabled him to experience first-hand the Association's ability to shape and influence national education policy and debate. Here he shares his love for Council, teaching, escape rooms and... ballot paper. More
  • #TGIF
    The lack of discipline, general sense of ennui, the dreadful weather... and the fact that the weekend still seems an age away. Tell me why I don't like Thursday, asks Carl Smith. More
Bookmark and Share

Pay and Conditions Specialist Louise Hatswell explains maternity leave and other entitlements for parents-to-be working in the education sector.

Parent planning

Finding out you are pregnant can be a mix of great happiness and apprehension, but it can also seem quite daunting with so many things to plan and organise. This can particularly be the case for working mums-to-be, and more so in the education sector, due to the myriad of different terms and conditions and options available.

We have put together a guidance document to help our members navigate this exciting time, and to highlight what their – and their partners’ – entitlements are, up to, including and beyond their maternity leave.

If you are an ASCL member who manages any staff who are pregnant, you may find the guidance document helpful, too. Download the guidance here www.ascl.org.uk/MaternityGuidance


There are minimum statutory provisions relating to maternity leave and pay in England, but they are more enhanced in the education sector. First, you need to establish which terms and conditions of employment are applicable to you and if your role is covered by any of the national agreements on these. The table (below) will help you to check this.

Whichever conditions of employment are applicable to you, it will always be the case that the most favourable provision will prevail.

Once you know which maternity provisions apply, you may wish to request a copy of your employer’s maternity policy so that you know the process required at each stage. You may, for example, need to complete a proforma at certain stages rather than provide information in writing.

Sharing the good news

While it is important that you do not feel under pressure to reveal your pregnancy before you are ready, you should bear in mind that rights such as the entitlement to take paid time off for antenatal care, risk assessments and protection from discrimination or dismissal won’t kick in until an employer is made aware of a pregnancy. It may, therefore, be beneficial to inform your employer of your pregnancy at a relatively early stage.

Maternity leave

Maternity leave for all pregnant employees can start no earlier than the beginning of the eleventh week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) and a minimum of two weeks must be taken after the birth.

Returning to work

When you are deciding how much maternity leave you would like to take, be mindful of the requirements about returning to work afterwards. If you opt to receive occupational maternity pay, most schemes have a requirement that you return to work for a period that is equivalent to 13 weeks/three months of the working hours you were on prior to going on leave.

For example, if you previously worked four days per week (0.8 full-time equivalent (FTE)) and wanted to return to work for two days per week (0.4 FTE) you would need to return for 26 weeks working the new two days per week pattern (including periods of school/ college closure). If you find you are unable to return for this period of time, your employer is entitled to ask you to repay some/all of your additional maternity leave (AML) pay.

However, it is important to note that this is discretionary and not mandatory, so discuss this with your employer. There could well be unforeseen circumstances that prevent your planned return, and we would expect employers to be sympathetic towards these.

Keeping in touch

‘Keeping in touch’ (KIT) days are available as an option to assist employees/employers throughout maternity leave and any of these days should be mutually agreed. They can be used to ease the transition from maternity leave back to work, and also for attendance at training days or conferences. They should not, however, be used for performance management purposes.

A flexible return

You may decide that you want to return to work on a different working pattern after your leave, moving from full-time to part-time or changing your current part-time arrangements. Your employer should have a flexible working policy that should include details on the process for making a flexible working request.

Louise Hatswell
ASCL Pay and Conditions Specialist