What happens to your pension during your maternity leave

05 Oct 2021

If you’re planning to take time out of work to have a baby, chances are your pension isn’t high on your list of immediate priorities. Ensuring your finances are in order is as essential as preparing for being a new parent and the sleepless nights.

In addition to your maternity pay, it’s important to think about your pension contribution when planning your finances whilst on maternity leave; this is a topic we often get asked about. Here’s everything you need to know about what happens to your pension during maternity leave:

Maternity rights

During your time away from work you’re allowed to benefit from all the things you usually would such as paid holiday, employee benefits and employer pension benefits.

Pensions and maternity leave

If you’re eligible to receive maternity pay during your leave, you will also continue to receive regular pension contributions from your employer. Due to Auto-Enrolment, all employers have to enrol their staff into a company pension scheme and pay a government minimum employer pension contribution.  You are also expected to pay a minimum pension contribution.

Maternity rights state that those on maternity leave must receive the same benefits as they would if they were at work, which includes pension contributions. You won’t need to do anything to your pension as your employer will make these payments automatically, however you must ensure you remain in your pension scheme, continue with your payments and do not opt-out.

Pension contributions during maternity leave

If you receive Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), your employer has to keep paying into your pension for at least 39 weeks and possibly longer, depending on what is agreed in your contract of employment. Employer payments will usually be based on the salary you received before you went on maternity leave, and if you are in a pension scheme where your employer matches your contributions, they will also be matched to the level of contributions you made before your maternity leave began.

The contributions you make to your pension during maternity leave will be based on your actual earnings during this period which may be lower than your usual payments. That means your contribution level may fall over the duration of your maternity leave, but your employer will still retain their pre maternity leave contribution level.

Unless your contract states otherwise, your employer does not have to contribute to your pension during the period of your maternity leave where you are not being paid, such as the last 13 weeks if you receive SMP. This period is considered as unpaid leave and you may want to make extra pension contributions to cover this when your leave ends, and you go back to earning your full salary.

Topping up your pension after maternity leave

When you return to work after maternity leave you may want to consider topping up your pension.

Topping up your pension will ensure your savings are not adversely affected by any time taken out to raise children and can help keep your savings on track for your retirement. This is especially important the more children, and therefore the more breaks, you have throughout your career.

If you require any guidance or advice on pension rights during maternity leave, please contact us on Info@wingatebs.com or call 01883 332260.

To find further information on your maternity rights please visit the following link https://www.gov.uk/maternity-pay-leave.

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