Maternity, paternity and adoption leave and your pension

We cover the basics of the effects that leave can have on your NHS pension, including what contributions you and your employer make and if your leave is pensionable.

Location: UK
Audience: Consultants SAS doctors GPs Junior doctors
Last reviewed: 29 October 2021
Piggybank illustration

Is my maternity leave pensionable?

I am a secondary care doctor

Your maternity, paternity or adoption leave is pensionable, as long as pension contributions are paid to cover the leave period. If you are entitled to maternity, paternity or adoption pay, your employer will continue to deduct contributions on the pay you receive.

If you go onto nil pay, the contributions will be based on the amount of pay received immediately prior to the start of the unpaid period.

When you return to work following leave, your employer should arrange for any contribution arrears to be collected.

If you repay contributions, this period will be treated as continuous pensionable employment. Your service will be credited as if you did not have an unpaid period.

I am a GP partner

Your maternity, paternity or adoption leave is pensionable. As long as you continue to receive your share of the partnership profits, then normal pension contributions will be deducted on the amount of pay you received during the leave.

You can elect to pay contributions in respect of any unpaid maternity, paternity and adoption leave periods. The contributions during the nil pay period will be based on the amount of pay received immediately prior to the start of the unpaid period.

If you repay contributions, this period will be treated as continuous pensionable employment. Your pension record will be credited with your full share of partnership profit as if you did not have unpaid period.

I am a salaried GP

Your maternity, paternity or adoption leave is pensionable, as long as you continue to receive pensionable NHS earnings (including statutory maternity pay).

During a period of paid maternity, paternity or adoption leave, your pension record will continue to record the earnings you were receiving immediately prior to your leave.

You can elect to pay contributions in respect of any unpaid period in a similar way to secondary care doctors.

If you repay contributions, this period will be treated as continuous pensionable employment. Your pension record will be credited with unreduced contractual earnings as if you did not have unpaid period.

I am a locum GP

GP locums are not able to continue to pay pension contributions during a period of maternity, paternity or adoption leave. You are only able to contribute to the scheme while actually working.

If you are a doctor in training read how rotations can impact on maternity, paternity and adoption leave.

 

Not returning to work from maternity leave

I don’t intend to return to work

Your pension contributions will continue to be deducted from the pay you actually receive. Your last day of scheme membership will be the last day you paid pension contributions.

I did plan to return to work, but have changed my mind

If you change your mind and decide not to return to work, the last day of pensionable membership will be the date on which contributions ceased.

You can’t have a refund if you made contributions during your leave. A refund is only possible if you have been contributing to the scheme for less than two years in total. 

What if I retire?

If you are a secondary care doctor and your pension becomes payable during a period of reduced pay or unpaid leave, pensionable pay will be calculated as though no reduction in pay had occurred.

If you are a GP and your pension becomes payable during a period of reduced pay or unpaid leave, your credited ‘deemed’ income will reflect the correct position depending on whether you are a GP partner or a salaried GP.

Paying your contributions

You will continue to pay the same percentage contribution as applied immediately before your period of maternity, paternity or adoption leave began.

  • When in receipt of full pay: contributions are payable on full pay.
  • When in receipt of half pay: contributions are payable on the half pay.
  • When in receipt of statutory maternity pay: contributions are payable on the amount actually received.
  • When on unpaid leave: contributions are based on the rate of pay immediately before the period of unpaid leave began.

It is not compulsory to make pension contributions during unpaid leave. If you would prefer not to then you must notify your employer prior to your pay reducing to nil.

I am only entitled to maternity allowance

Whilst maternity allowance itself is not pensionable you are able to contribute to the scheme in the same way as if it were a period of unpaid leave.

In these circumstances the rate of contribution is based on your pay immediately prior to commencing any maternity leave period.

My employer didn't take any contributions from me

If, for some reason, your employer has failed to collect contributions during your leave, these can be repaid but it must be done within a reasonable timescale.

Your employer should be informed as soon as possible after return to work to make the necessary arrangements.

However, if you notified your employer that you did not wish to make contributions during the unpaid period these may not be allowed to be repaid at a later date.

I can’t afford to pay contributions whilst on unpaid leave

Arrangements can be made through your employer to pay the arrears on return to work. The arrears have to be repaid within a reasonable amount of time agreed between you and your employer.

What rate are the employer contributions?

The employer contribution is based on full pay throughout your leave.  This is the case even if your pay reduces or stops during the leave period.

Are KIT days pensionable?

Yes. Contributions are payable for the KIT days based on the level of pay which was payable prior to the KIT day (eg reduced earnings).

Any part day worked is taken as a full day for pension purposes.

What about my added years or additional pension?

If you are buying added years or additional pension you will continue to pay contributions based on your pensionable pay immediately before the period of maternity, paternity or adoption leave commenced.

For any period of unpaid leave, added years or additional pension contributions remain deductible at the rate of pay immediately before the period of leave started.