Working parents

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Continuous service and maternity leave

To be eligible for maternity leave under the NHS scheme you must have 12 months’ continuous service with one or more NHS employers at the beginning of the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth without a break of more than three months.

For the purposes of calculating whether the employee meets the 12-month continuous service requirement with one or more NHS employers the following provisions shall apply:

  1. NHS employers include health authorities, NHS boards, NHS trusts, primary care trusts and the Northern Ireland Health Service
  2. a break in service of three months or less will be disregarded (though not count as service)
  3. the following breaks in service will also be disregarded (though not count as service):
    • employment under the terms of an honorary contract
    • employment as a locum with a general practitioner for a period not exceeding 12 months
    • a period of up to 12 months spent abroad as part of a definite programme of postgraduate training on the advice of the postgraduate dean or college or faculty adviser in the specialty concerned
    • a period of voluntary service overseas with a recognised international relief organisation for a period of 12 months which may be exceptionally extended for 12 months at the discretion of the employer which recruits the employee on her return
    • absence on an employment break scheme in accordance with the provisions of temporary appendix VI(ii) of the Terms and Conditions of Service for Hospital Medical and Dental Staff and Doctors in Public Health Medicine and the Community Health Service (England and Wales) and temporary schedule 25 of the Terms and Conditions of Service for those employed under the new consultant contract
    • absence on maternity leave (paid or unpaid) as provided for under this agreement
  4. employers may at their discretion extend the period specified in b) and c) above
  5. employment as a trainee with a general medical practitioner in accordance with the provisions of the trainee practitioner scheme shall similarly be disregarded and count as service
  6. employers have the discretion to count other previous NHS service or service with other employers.