I worked for the NHS for 4 years, had a six month break while I relocated with DH, then started another NHS job last October. I got pregnant two months after starting this job (due end of Aug 2009 and have just started mat leave).
According to the NHS maternity policy, I'm only eligible for occupational maternity pay if I have 12 months 'continuous' service with the NHS. Breaks of up to 3 months are disregarded, but as my break in service was 6 months, I'd assumed I was only eligible for SMP.
Today I got a letter in response to my application for maternity leave/pay. It indicates that I'm being given the full occupational maternity pay (this includes 8 weeks full pay, 18 weeks half pay+SMP, and 13 weeks SMP).
I've checked the NHS Agenda for Change handbook again, and it says employers can use their discretion in awarding occupational maternity pay when considering previous service.
So.... Do I call this to their attention, or say nothing and assume they decided to disregard the fact that my break in service was longer than 3 months?
I put on the application form for mat pay/leave that I intended to return to the NHS, but thought it wasn't a big deal because I was only getting SMP (and if I don't go back there's nothing they can do). If I get this occupational pay too, it locks me into returning to the NHS for three months (though it can be another job)--or else I have to pay it back.
DH is worried they will discover the 'error' (if it is an error) and want it all back at some point. However, he agrees we could really use the money...and I'm willing to commit to going back to the NHS if it will make it financially easier for the next six months.
Oh what to do?! Query it? Say nothing and hope for the best?
I would check that it is correct. Although you say you could really use the money, presumably it would be less difficult to do without it now rather than have the shock somewhere down the line of possibly having to pay it back? If it was me, I'd be afraid to spend it in case I had to repay it so I wouldn't even enjoy the benefit of it anyway!
I would check it if I was you. As Annh says, it would be dreadful to have to pay it back later, and they might be able to do this if it was a clear error that you were paid (which it pretty much is since you're clear that you didn't think you were eligible).
Agree you are right to tell them. It sounds as though there is provision for them to award you occupational maternity pay in these circumstances, so with any luck, either that's what they've done, or they'll decide to do that after the event because of your honesty! Either way at least you won't have it hanging over you.
Ahhh poop. Just got this message back from HR payroll lady:
'Thank you for pointing this out, it was in fact your dates on our system that were incorrect and upon looking at your previous service, I can see the 6 month gap. Payroll have already picked up on this and are only paying SMP.
Sorry for the confusion, I will send a further letter out to you reflecting the SMP only entitlement.'
I suppose honesty has to be its own reward or something....