Parental leave policy

Introduction

The University is committed to equality of opportunity in employment for all its staff and to developing work practices and human resource policies that support work-life balance. This policy statement extends the provisions contained in the Employment Relations Act (1999) and the Maternity and Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2002.

The aim of this policy is to inform employees and managers of employment rights relating to parental leave and to provide a framework for the decision making process.

Definition

Parental leave is a statutory right to take unpaid time off work to look after a child or make arrangements for the child's welfare. Parents can use it to spend more time with children and to strike a better balance between their work and family commitments. Parental leave is in addition to maternity leave, paternity/maternity support leave and annual leave.

In addition to parental leave an employee is entitled to take leave in accordance with the University's policies for maternity leave, paternity/maternity support leave, dependent leave, adoption leave, special leave and flexible working. Their suitability for any situation should be considered as a possible alternative if it is appropriate.

Statutory qualification for parental leave

To qualify for parental leave an employee must:

  • be the mother or father of the child named on the birth certificate or
  • have adopted a child under the age of 18 or
  • have acquired formal parental responsibility

An employee with children born or adopted after 15 December 1999 will qualify for parental leave if they have completed one year of continuous service with the University by the time the leave is taken.

Employees with children born or adopted between 15 December 1994 and 14 December 1999, or parents of disabled children under 18, will qualify for parental leave if they have completed one year of continuous service with the University or another employer between 15 December 1998 and 9 January 2002.

Sympathetic consideration will be given by the Directorate of Human Resources to the following:

  • applications to extend entitlement to staff with informal responsibility for childcare, e.g. grandparents, step-parents or long-term foster parents.
  • applications for leave from parents who do not meet the one year qualifying period.
  • applications for leave from parents whose children are over the qualifying age.

Statutory parental leave entitlement

An employee who qualifies for parental leave is entitled to up to 18 weeks in total (not per year) for each child, which must be taken during the first 5 years of the child's life.

An employee who qualifies for parental leave and whose children were adopted after 15 December 1999 is entitled to up to 18 weeks leave in total (not per year) for each child, which must be taken during the first 5 years of adoption or up to the child's 18th birthday, whichever comes first.

Parents of children claiming a disability living allowance are entitled to 18 weeks parental leave which has to be taken during the first 18 years of the child's life.

In the case of multiple births an employee is entitled to a separate 18 week period for each child.

A part-time employee is entitled to leave in proportion to time worked, for example an employee working one day per week is entitled to 18 days leave in total.

A year, with respect to parental leave starts on the date on which the employee first became entitled to take parental leave i.e. once the employee has one continuous year of employment if the child has already been born or adopted, or from the date the child was born or adopted.

Taking leave

Leave can be taken up until the child's 5th birthday. In adoption cases leave can be taken for the first 5 years after the child is placed with the family for adoption (or until the child's 18th birthday if that comes sooner). In the case of a child with a disability leave can be taken up until the child's 18th birthday.

Statutory entitlement

The statutory right to parental leave states that it should be taken as blocks of one week (except in the case of disabled children where leave may be taken in periods of one or more days at a time) up to a maximum of 4 weeks per year.

Additional Oxford Brookes entitlement

In order to better enable staff to balance work and family commitments Oxford Brookes allows all staff to take parental leave in periods of one or more days at a time if they so wish

Sympathetic consideration will be given by the Directorate of Human Resources to applications to take parental leave in blocks greater than 4 weeks in a year

Requesting leave

Leave should be requested using a parental leave form. Once agreed leave should be recorded on the parental leave card supplied to all parents on first notification of their request to take parental leave. Maintaining and holding the parental leave card is the responsibility of the employee but the Directorate of Human Resources will also keep a record of any leave taken.

Wherever possible the following notification periods should be followed. For periods of leave of one week or more 21 days notice is required for leave to be given. For periods of leave of 3 to 4 days staff should give 14 days notice. For periods of leave of 1 to 2 days staff should give 7 days notice. It is in the employee's interest to give as much notice of intended leave as possible in order that their department can try to accommodate their request. In the event of emergencies staff are referred to the dependent care, domestic emergency and bereavement leave policy, which allows staff time off with pay to cope with emergency situations within their immediate family.

Where the employee is the father of the child and the period of leave is to begin on the date on which the child is born, the employee must inform the University at least 21 days before the baby is due. Fathers wishing to take leave immediately after the baby is born should note that in accordance with the University's paternity/maternity support policy they are entitled to up to two weeks paid leave (to be taken before the end of a period of 70 days commencing with the date of the child's birth).

If the child is placed with an employee for adoption and the leave is to begin on the date of the placement, the employee must give the University at least 21 days notice before the beginning of the week of the placement, or as soon as is reasonably practicable.

For periods of leave of 3 days or more the line manager will reply to the request for leave within 7 days. They will confirm whether the employee can have the leave or whether it must be postponed.

For periods of leave of 1 or 2 days the line manager will reply to the request within 3 days. They will confirm whether the employee can have the leave or whether it must be postponed.

The Directorate of Human Resources may initially ask to see evidence to confirm that that the employee is entitled to parental leave e.g. proof of the child's age and/or proof of the employee's responsibilities towards that child. The University's request must be reasonable and evidence should not be sought on each occasion that leave is requested.

Postponing parental leave

Leave may not be postponed if it is taken for the period immediately after the birth of the child or the adoption of the child and the employee has given 21 days notice. As mentioned in section 6 above fathers wishing to take leave immediately after the baby is born are, in accordance with the University's paternity/maternity support policy, entitled to up to two weeks paid leave to be taken before the end of a period of 70 days commencing with the date of the child's birth.

Where the parental leave requested is a statutory right the request will not unreasonably be refused. However requests for leave may be postponed for up to 6 months if the business needs would be unduly disrupted during the period of leave. If leave is postponed beyond the 5 year limit the parent still has the right to take the remaining leave time.

Where postponement is necessary it is expected that the employee, their line manager and if necessary their link HR manager will agree a suitable alternative time to take the leave.

Record keeping

Records of all leave requested and taken, including all letters relating to postponement of leave should be collated by line managers and forwarded to the Directorate of Human Resources.

If an employee moves to a new employer. The Directorate of Human Resources are responsible for informing the employer, if requested to do so, of the amount of parental leave the employee has taken whilst at Oxford Brookes and of the amount that is remaining.

For new employees the Directorate of Human Resources is responsible for finding out from the previous employer how much parental leave has been taken and how much is remaining.

Terms and conditions of employment

During the period of parental leave the employee will remain employed under the same terms and conditions but will not be paid.

Employees who take parental leave will be entitled to return to the same position under the same terms and conditions except in the situation that their post is made redundant whilst they are on leave. In these circumstances please refer to the maternity policy as the same principles apply.

Pension arrangements

See summary of pension arrangements for employees taking maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity/maternity/adoption support leave

Refusal of parental leave

Staff who feel that they have been unreasonably refused the right to parental leave or who feel that they have been victimised for requesting parental leave should, in the first instance raise the matter with their line manager and inform their link HR manager. They can also consult with their union and have the right to raise the matter through the grievance procedure.

Any complaints will be recorded by the Directorate of Human Resources and reported to the Work-Life Balance Steering Group. They will be monitored, with the aim of bringing about consistency between Faculties and Directorates in the way that policies related to work-life balance are implemented throughout the University.

Staff also have the right to make a complaint to an employment tribunal. A complaint to a tribunal must normally be made within 3 months of the date when time off was refused or the victimisation took place.

Full details of the procedures to be followed are contained in parantal leave guidance.

 

updated March 2013