Maternity, paternity and adoption leave and your pension

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

Location: UK
Audience: Consultants SAS doctors GPs Junior doctors
Updated: Monday 7 September 2020
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Secondary care doctors

Your maternity, paternity or adoption leave is pensionable:

  • if you pay pension contributions 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 actually 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
  • if you choose to repay contributions to cover the unpaid period, your service will be credited as if you did not have an unpaid period
  • when you return to work following maternity, paternity or adoption leave, your employer should arrange for any contribution arrears to be collected.

 

GP principals

Your maternity, paternity or adoption leave is pensionable:

  • as long as you continue to receive your share of the partnership profits
  • normal pension contributions will be deducted on the amount of pay you actually received during the leave
  • you can elect to pay contributions in respect of any unpaid maternity, paternity and adoption leave periods
  • if you do so, your dynamising sheet will be credited with your full share of partnership profit as if you did not have an unpaid period
  • 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.

 

Salaried GPs

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 dynamising sheet 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 do so, your dynamising sheet will be credited with unreduced contractual earnings as if you did not have an unpaid period.

 

GP locums

You 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 you are actually working.

 

Returning to work

If you plan not 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. 

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

If you have made contributions during leave but have decided not to return to work, you cannot have a refund of your contributions, unless you have been contributing for less than two years.

 

How your pension contributions are calculated

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

The contributions are payable as follows:

  • 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.

Other things to know about contributions:

  • if you are only eligible for maternity allowance, you are able to contribute to your pension as if it were a period of unpaid leave
  • it is not compulsory to make pension contributions during unpaid leave - you should notify your employer
  • if for some reason your employer has failed to collect contributions during your leave then these can be repaid but it must be done within a reasonable timescale
  • if you notified your employer that you did not wish to make contributions these cannot be allowed to be repaid at a later date
  • if you cannot afford to pay contributions, arrangements can be made with 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 the employers
  • 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
  • contributions will be made on the pay received for your KIT (keeping in touch) days and even if you just work a part day, will be consider a full day for pension purposes.

 

Added years and additional pension purchase

If you are buying added years and 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 and additional pension contributions remain deductible at the rate of pay immediately before the period of leave started.