Taking maternity or adoption leave may not be as straightforward as it sounds if you’re posted before you are due to return to work. Some army spouses have been asked to pay back their maternity pay when they haven’t been able to fulfil their contract. Laura Lewin has been on the case…

AFF HAS worked closely with some local authorities to help them understand the unique challenges that army life presents.

Cambridgeshire County Council has already made a change to its HR policy in support of its employees and Suffolk County Council has also agreed to consider issues on a case by case basis. After we intervened, the council recently waived maternity charges for army spouse Katie, who is a health visitor. 

She said: “I was massively surprised with the outcome. I really appreciate AFF’s help as I was told I had to pay it back. It has taken away the stress of where I will get the money from as I have not yet found work.”

Better understanding 

Cambridgeshire County Council regularly reviews its employment policies to reflect its commitments under the Armed Forces Covenant.

Anna Syson, from the council’s human resources department, explained: “We are open to ideas and suggestions that could better support those who serve and their families.

“We work closely with Vikki Barr, our Armed Forces Covenant development officer, and have undertaken a survey to ask people about their experiences so that we can better understand what’s helpful.

“We recognise that there are circumstances where an employee begins maternity or adoption leave and is subsequently advised that their spouse or partner has a new posting, which will take the family to another location. In those situations, we would not require the individual to repay their contractual maternity/adoption pay.”  

As a military spouse herself, Vikki advised that it’s best to keep the lines of communication open with your line manager and HR team: “If you’re in a situation that requires support, just ask your employer what’s available.

“Even if there are not specific policies, there may be ones you can utilise to support your situation.”

Your evidence is key, so if you have been asked to return your maternity pay, email Laura at employmenttraining@aff.org.uk

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