Parental leave: a guide
The right to parental leave is contained in the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999. These regulations were made under the Employment Rights Act 1996, as amended by the Employment Relations Act 1999. The Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations came into force in December 1999, and in 2013 the Government increased the number of weeks of unpaid parental leave from 13 to 18 weeks for all.
What is Parental Leave?
Parental Leave is a right to take time off work to look after a child or to make arrangements for a child's welfare. Parents can use it to spend more time with children and to achieve a better balance between their work and family commitments. The leave is unpaid, although the University provides paid schemes for maternity leave, adoption leave and paternity leave (details also available from Human Resources).
Who can take Parental Leave?
All members of staff who have a baby or who adopt a child and who have completed one year's qualifying service with the University at the time they want to take the leave are entitled to do so.
Key elements of Parental Leave which will apply in every case
18 weeks parental leave for each child in the following circumstances:
- where the child was born on or after 15 December 1999, the date the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 were implemented. Entitlement continues as long as the child is under 5 years of age, or in the case of a disabled child, up to the child's 18th birthday
- where the child was placed for adoption on or after 15th December 1999. Entitlement continues for a maximum of 5 years after the date of placement or until the child's 18th birthday, whichever occurs sooner;
- the employee will remain employed while on parental leave;
- at the end of parental leave an employee is guaranteed the right to return to the same job as before.
The parental leave scheme at the University provides for staff to take leave:
- in blocks or multiples of one week, although the University will give sympathetic consideration to applications for periods of less than one week. Parents with disabled children can take parental leave in periods of less than one week;
- after the giving of written notice at least 21 days prior to the leave;
- up to a maximum of 4 weeks leave in a year (1 April - 31 March)
- subject to agreement with the University on the timing and duration of the leave, such agreement will not be unnecessarily withheld but will take into account service provision;
- (upon the giving of due notice), immediately after a child is born or placed with a family for adoption.
What if you are unreasonably refused time off?
If a member of staff believes that he/she has been unreasonably refused time off, then the person should contact Human Resources and a HR Officer will seek to investigate and resolve the situation.
It shall be noted that parents of disabled children will have the flexibility to take leave a day at a time or for a longer period than the above provisions. It is also the case that the University will sympathetically consider all reasonable requests to vary the above provisions according to individual circumstances.
Staff should also be aware that the above scheme is additional to current arrangements for maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave and the scheme to enable staff to take time off to care for dependants (information on all these provisions is also available from Human Resources).
If you have any queries relating to the above, then please do not hesitate to contact Alan Charnock.
Deputy Director of Human Resources
revised March 2013