Parental leave policy

1. Introduction

Parental Leave is a statutory right for eligible employees to take unpaid time off work to look after their child’s welfare, e.g. to:

  • spend more time with their child/children
  • look at new schools
  • settle children into new childcare arrangements
  • spend more time with family

Employment rights (like the right to pay, holidays and returning to a job) are protected during Parental Leave.

2. Aims

The aims of this policy are to explain:

  • the provisions of parental leave
  • who is eligible
  • how to apply.  

3. Scope and interpretation

This policy applies to all eligible employees of the University and covers planned unpaid leave. For emergency leave, consult the Dependant care, domestic emergency and bereavement leave policy.

4. Eligibility

To qualify for Parental Leave employees must meet all the following statutory conditions:

  • completed one year of continuous service
  • be named on the child’s birth or adoption certificate or have/expect to have parental responsibility
  • not be a foster parent (unless you have secured parental responsibility through the courts)
  • the child is under 18

The University may seek evidence to confirm entitlement to parental leave (e.g. birth certificate).

This policy applies to same-sex couples and single parents. Where used, the term “partner” applies to either of the child’s parents or their spouse, civil partner, or a person who lives with the parent in an enduring family relationship but is not the parent’s child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew.

Sympathetic consideration will be given by the People Directorate to the following:

  • applications to extend entitlement to employees with informal responsibility for childcare, e.g. grandparents, stepparents 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.

5. Entitlement

Each parent can take up to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave for each child during the first 18 years of the child’s life, limited to a maximum of 4 weeks for each child in any one calendar year.

A ‘week’ equals the length of time an employee normally works over 7 days, e.g. if an employee works 3 days a week, one ‘week’ of parental leave equals 3 days.

An employee may carry leave over from a previous employment e.g. if an employee has used 10 weeks’ parental leave with a previous employer they can take up to a further 8 weeks if they remain eligible. For this reason records of all parental leave requested and taken should be sent to the People Directorate. The People Directorate will liaise with former and new employers to confirm leave taken.

The statutory requirement is for Parental Leave to be taken in whole weeks (e.g. 1 week or 2 week blocks). However, in order to enable staff to balance work and family commitments the University allows staff to take Parental Leave in periods of one or more days at a time.

6. Notice of leave

Where practicable, employees must give at least 21 days’ notice before their intended start date. If they or their partner is having a baby or adopting, it is 21 days before the week the baby or child is expected. However, shorter notice may be accepted, particularly for Parental Leave of 5 days or fewer, as long as this is operationally feasible.

Requests should be submitted on the Parental Leave Form.

The line manager will normally reply to the request for leave within 7 working days of the request being made.

7. Delaying leave

It is not possible to postpone/delay requests for parental leave if:

  • there is no genuine business reason e.g. it would cause serious disruption to the business
  • the leave is being taken by the child's father or the mother's partner, e.g. spouse, same-sex partner, civil or long-term partner immediately after the birth or adoption of a child
  • it means an employee would no longer qualify for parental leave, e.g. postponing it until after the child’s 18th birthday

If leave is postponed, after first consulting their link People Manager, the line manager must:

  • write to the employee explaining why within 7 days of the original request
  • suggest a new start date - this must be within 6 months of the requested start date
  • not change the amount of leave being requested

8. Refusal of parental leave

If an employee feels they have been unreasonably refused time off, had their leave request refused for in excess of six months, or feels victimised for taking Parental Leave, they may raise the matter under the University’s Grievance procedure.

The People Directorate will record and monitor any such complaints 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.

9. Pension arrangements

For further information, please refer to your relevant pension website and Oxford Brookes’ summary of pension arrangements for employees taking family leave.

Last reviewed: September 2016