Category: Maternity Leave

What happens in the event of a still birth or miscarriage?

After 24 weeks of pregnancy, there will be no distinction between live and still births in the granting of maternity leave. If the baby is born alive at any time during the pregnancy but subsequently dies, the member of staff will be entitled to maternity leave and benefits.

In cases of miscarriage before 24 weeks of pregnancy, the sickness absence procedures will apply and there will be no entitlement to maternity leave or pay.

How will my fixed-term contract impact on maternity leave and pay entitlements?

Where a member of staff has a fixed term contract and qualifies for maternity leave, they will be accorded the same entitlements as comparable staff employed on open-ended contracts. If there is funding available to extend a fixed term contract, the extension will be offered regardless of the pregnancy or maternity leave. A non-renewal of contract due to reasons related to pregnancy or maternity leave would constitute sex discrimination.

If the contract end date falls within the period of maternity leave and the contract is not renewed, any College benefits due will continue up to the date of termination of the contract and will cease on termination of employment. Where there has been less than 39 weeks of maternity pay at the termination date, the College will continue to pay the remainder of the Statutory Maternity Pay.

How will sickness absence impact on my maternity leave arrangements?

Sickness Absence Prior to Maternity Leave

Staff absent from work due to illness, will normally be able to take sick leave in line with the College sickness absence scheme until she starts maternity leave on the date notified. If the illness is unrelated to pregnancy the member of staff can remain on sick leave and receive Occupational Sick Pay/Statutory Sick Pay/Incapacity Benefit right up to the date of the baby’s birth or until the date the member of staff has notified as the intended start date of her maternity leave.

If the member of staff is absent from work during the 4 weeks before the expected week of childbirth due to pregnancy-related illness, the maternity leave period starts automatically. This applies even if the day of absence is before the date the member of staff has notified as the date on which she intends her leave to commence. Once maternity leave has started, it will run continuously until after the baby is born and the member of staff is due to return to work. Staff cannot stop and restart a period of maternity leave.

Postponing the Date of Return due to Sickness

If unable to attend work at the end of the maternity leave due to sickness, the normal

arrangements for sickness absence will apply. The manager should be notified of any sickness absence, and kept informed of progress in the normal way.

What are the regulations relating to me returning to work so that my partner can take additional paternity leave?

 A partner cannot commence additional paternity leave until the member of staff has returned to work, it may then commence at 20 or more weeks after the child’s birth, or placement, in the case of adoption.

Further details can be found in the College’s Paternity/Maternity Support Leave policy, although it should be noted that this policy applies to College staff only and that members of staff whose partners are not employed by Imperial College should consult their own employer for information and guidance.

Am I entitled to take leave for fertility treatment or investigation of a fertility issue?

For the purposes of leave arrangements, a distinction is drawn between the investigation phase (for example, determining whether there is a disease affecting fertility), and the treatment itself:

 Please consult HR’s Guidance note on Leave for Fertility Treatment, available from:,  which sets out leave entitlement and eligibility criteria.

When can I start my maternity leave?

The start of Maternity Leave must be no earlier than the 11th week before your expected week of childbirth. Your GP or midwife will confirm your expected week of childbirth by issuing a MAT B1 certificate which is normally issued no earlier than 20 weeks before your expected week of childbirth. This certificate must be sent to your Senior HR Administrator, as soon as you of staff receives it, so that Maternity Leave and Pay entitlements can be confirmed. 

 If you are absent from work during the 4 weeks before your expected week of childbirth due to pregnancy-related illness, your maternity leave period starts automatically, even if the birth takes place before the start of the 11th week before the birth was originally expected.  Information on sickness absence prior to maternity leave can be found in the Maternity Leave FAQs.

Following my period of paid maternity leave, must I then take my entitlement to unpaid maternity leave?

No.  You may take as much, or as little of your unpaid entitlement as you wish.  Alternatively, you may choose not to take any unpaid leave following your paid maternity leave.

The only stipulation is that you must take a minimum of 2 weeks’ Compulsory Maternity Leave immediately after the date of childbirth.

Can I change my maternity / adoption / surrogacy leave dates?

Once you notify your line manager and HR of the date you wish to start your leave, you can change this date provided you notify your manager and HR of the new start date by whichever is the earlier of:

  • 28 days before the date she originally intended to start or leave


  • 28 days before the new date you want to start your leave

Where it is not reasonably practicable for you to give this much notice (for example, in the case of maternity if the baby is born early and you have to start your leave straight away) then you do not have to give this notice.  In these circumstances you should inform the College of the revised date as soon as is practicable.

Once a member of staff has notified her line manager and HR, in writing, of the intended start date of maternity leave, the Senior HR Administrator will, within 28 days, write to the member of staff to notify her of her rights and of the date on which her maternity leave will end.