Q&A What happens about pension contributions during Maternity Leave?

Q:      I am due to go on maternity leave in a couple of months and I keep asking my employer what will happen about pension contributions whilst I am off, but he just answers my question with another question about whether I do/don’t trust him to sort it. To be frank I don’t think he knows what will happen. It’s only a small business and outside his family there is only one other employee and me. Can you explain what should happen, please?

A:       Whilst you are on maternity leave, and provided you qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, you will be entitled to all your usual employee benefits such as paid holiday, protection from unfair dismissal, and employer pension contributions. To qualify for SMP you must be earning upwards of £120 per week and have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks when you reach the 15th week before your due birth date.

Provided you remain in the pension scheme, your employer should continue to make pension contribution payments for a minimum of 39 weeks and possibly longer, but check the terms of your contract as this can vary beyond that period. Normally the level of contribution is based on whatever salary you were on prior to going on maternity leave. You should not need to take any action as the payments should be made automatically. However, unless otherwise stated in your contract, your employer does not need to make pension contributions for you during the last 13 weeks of your maternity leave as this period is treated as unpaid leave.

When it comes to the contributions made by you, these will be based on your income, which will be SMP rather than salary and therefore may be lower. You may therefore decide you want to make additional voluntary payments into your pension whilst you are receiving SMP if it is lower than your salary, and during the period treated as unpaid leave.

This question has been answered by James Denton, a Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter, please visit our website www.ghplegal.com and use the contact us form, or call us on: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194 

James Denton

James Denton


Solicitor in our Civil Litigation team in the Oswestry and Wrexham offices.