The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 is to be amended from October 2008 to bring certain rights during Additional Maternity Leave (AML) in line with Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML). Similar provisions apply to adoption leave. There has been some debate as to the effect this will have on pension provision.

The Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform's view is that there will be no change in the pension requirements (i.e. full pension provision during OML and paid periods of AML). Draft regulations have been issued which amend Regulation 18A of the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999. This requires seniority, pensions and similar rights to be provided on return from AML as they would have been had the employee not been absent - but with a carve out for pensions. This provides that nothing in Regulation 18A imposes a requirement which exceeds the requirements the Social Security Act 1989 (which in turn requires pensions to be maintained in full only during periods of paid family leave).

Our understanding is that the intended effect of the amending regulations is that full pension accrual/contributions is required only during paid periods of maternity leave and that unpaid periods of AML will remain non-pensionsable.