Family Leave Policy and Procedure
This policy and procedure applies to all employees of Loughborough University, regardless of contract type or duration, other than those employed on an irregular bank/casual basis. It has been written following consultation with employee representatives.
The procedures outlined have been developed to ensure that family leave is dealt with fairly, sympathetically and effectively. The rights and responsibilities of all parties are clearly outlined.
Loughborough University is committed to ensuring that staff are able to balance their work and personal life. This policy sets out leave arrangements for staff with children and dependent adults.
There are provisions for other forms of leave which are dealt with by the University’s provisions for Special Leave and Leave of Absence.
Section A: Principles and Responsibilities
Equality and Diversity Statement
It is the aim of the University to provide a family leave policy that ensures staff receive their statutory entitlements with regards to family leave and are treated fairly and equitably when exercising their rights.
This policy takes into account current employment legislation and must be implemented in conjunction with the University’s Equalities Scheme and Equality Policy and Procedure.
To provide a clear procedure for dealing with family leave that ensures fair treatment and consistency of approach and is understood by all managers and employees.
- Employees Responsibilities
- Ensure that they follow the correct procedure for requesting leave
- Maintain contact with their manager during periods of leave and ensure that they return to work as expected
- Head of Department’s Responsibilities
- Ensure that staff are made aware of their rights under the family leave policy
- Respond to requests for leave promptly and fairly
- Ensure that absences due to family leave are recorded and covered appropriately
- Human Resources Responsibilities
- Ensure that risk assessments are carried out for pregnant staff
- Process all requests for family leave promptly and accurately
- Provide advice to managers and employees as appropriate
Section B: Maternity Leave
Summary of Entitlement
A female employee is entitled to a total of 52 weeks’ maternity leave.
Pregnant employees will receive Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for a total of 39 weeks of the maternity leave period. Tax and National Insurance contributions will be deducted from this amount.
For the first 18 weeks’ of maternity leave the employee will receive full pay (a member of staff who receives additional contractual entitlements such as shift allowance is also entitled to this amount). This ‘top up’ of SMP is called Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP). If the employee does not intend to return to work at the University (for a minimum of 3 months) after maternity leave then she will normally be required to repay OMP.
For the next 21 weeks’ of maternity leave the employee shall be entitled to the current rate for statutory maternity pay or 90% of average weekly earnings (whichever is less). Please see the Department of Work and Pensions for the current maternity rates
Compulsory maternity leave is the period of two weeks immediately after giving birth during which an employee is not permitted to work.
If an employee’s fixed term contract ends during maternity leave and she satisfies the conditions for SMP, she will be entitled to receive full OMP up to the date that the contract ends; from this date onwards she will continue to receive SMP. The University will continue to pay the SMP for the remainder of the entitlement even though the individual is no longer employed.
The birth of a child whether living or stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy will legally entitle an employee to full maternity leave and pay.
Maternity Leave Qualification
To qualify for SMP an employee must have been employed by the University for 26 weeks by the 15th week (qualifying week) before the baby is due. The employee must work at least one day of the qualifying week.
Leading up to and including the qualifying week, the employee must earn a minimum of £107.00 (The Lower Earning Limit) a week (tax year 2012-13) If she earns less than the Lower Earning Limit she will not be entitled to SMP and must contact the Benefits Agency to claim Maternity Allowance.
Notification of Intention to Take Maternity Leave
By the 15th week before the baby is due (the qualifying week) the employee must inform the University in writing that she is pregnant. The employee must include in the letter:
The date the baby is DUE (the expected week of childbirth) as opposed to the actual day of birth.
The expected week of childbirth, evidenced by a MATB1 certificate which can be obtained from their GP or midwife (normally issued within 20-26 weeks of pregnancy).
The date that she intends to start maternity leave. Maternity leave/pay can commence on or after the 11th week before the due date of the baby.
The University will confirm the employee’s ‘return date to work’ (maximum of 52 weeks after the commencement date of maternity leave) within 28 days of the employee’s letter.
The employee is entitled to change the date she wishes to return to work by giving the University eight weeks’ notice.
It is usual for the employee to arrange an appointment with her HR Officer as soon as possible to discuss her pregnancy requirements. A risk assessment questionnaire form should be emailed by the employee the appropriate HR Officer as soon as possible; this is to assess the potential risks within the employee’s working area.
A copy of the completed form is sent to the relevant Head of Department and the University Health, Safety and Environment Manager. The University Health Safety and Environment Manager will contact the employee upon receipt of this form to clarify any issues made on the form (if necessary). If at any time, an employee is concerned about any potential hazards these should be communicated to either of the above personnel.
It is advised that employees contact Human Resources as soon as they know they are pregnant, to arrange a convenient appointment time.
An employee is entitled to paid time-off for ante-natal classes and hospital appointments. This must be discussed with the relevant line managers when making such arrangements and where possible this time off should be taken at the beginning and end of the working day so as to cause as little disruption as possible.
Sickness Triggering Maternity Leave
If, in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy an employee is absent from work due to a pregnancy related illness, maternity leave will automatically begin. If an absence is not related to her pregnancy then the normal sickness provision will apply.
Annual Leave is accrued during the period of the whole maternity leave period; however only 5 day’s holiday entitlement may be carried forward from one leave year to the next. Therefore employees are advised to either take outstanding leave prior to the commencement of maternity leave or immediately following it. The whole period of absence should not exceed 52 weeks in total wherever possible.
If the employee is a member of the Universities Superannuation Scheme or Local Government Scheme, contributions are deducted to the amount of occupational and statutory pay actually paid during the period of maternity leave. During the statutory pay period, pension contributions are made up by the University to the full salary equivalent (USS members) or deemed to have been paid at that level in the LGPS.
To ensure continuity of reckonable service the employee may wish to continue to pay contributions for the maternity leave period and it is advised that they contact the Pension and Payroll Manager on ext. 222021, who will advise and make the necessary arrangements.
Pay Rises Whilst on Maternity Leave
If the employee is awarded a pay rise (or would have been awarded such a rise) had they not been absent on maternity leave their Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP) must be increased to take the pay rise into account.
Section C: Adoption Leave
Summary of Entitlement
An employee is entitled to a total of 52 weeks’ adoption leave.
The employee will receive Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) for a total of 39 weeks of their adoption leave. Tax and National Insurance contributions will be deducted from this amount.
For the first 18 weeks’ of adoption leave the employee will receive their full pay amount as usual (a member of staff who receives additional contractual entitlements such as shift allowance is also entitled to this amount). This ‘top up’ of SAP is called Occupational Adoption Pay (OAP) If an employee does not intend to return to work at the University (for a minimum of 3 months) after adoption leave then they will normally be required to repay OAP.
For the next 21 weeks of adoption leave the employee shall be entitled to SAP or 90% of average weekly earnings (whichever is less).
In the unfortunate event that an adoption placement is termianted during the adoption leave, advice should be sought from the relevant HR Adviser.
Adoption Leave Qualification
To qualify for SAP an employee must have been employed by the University for 26 weeks before the ‘match’ with a child is made by the registered Adoption Agency.
A request for adoption leave must be in writing and must be received at least 7 days before a ‘match’ is made with a child by the Adoption Agency.
Adoption leave can commence from the date the child starts living with the employee or 14 days before this date.
In a request for adoption leave the University must receive a copy of the Matching Certificate of the child naming the employee as the adoptive parent.
Leading up to and including the week before the ‘match’ the employee must earn a minimum of £107.00 a week (tax year 2012-13)
When a couple adopts, they can choose who takes adoption leave and who takes paternity leave. The employee must notify the University of the date they plan to start their leave when matched with a child. Adoption leave will be available to parents adopting a child up to 18 years of age when the child is placed for adoption.
Annual Leave is accrued during the period of the whole adoption leave period; however only 5 day’s holiday entitlement may be carried forward from one leave year to the next (pro-rata for part time staff). Therefore employees are advised to either take outstanding leave prior to the commencement of adoption leave or immediately following it. The whole period of adoption leave absence should not exceed 52 weeks in total wherever possible.
If the employee is a member of the Universities Superannuation Scheme or Local Government Scheme, contributions are required to the amount of occupational and statutory pay actually paid during the period of adoption leave. During the statutory pay period, pension contributions are made up by the University to the full salary equivalent (USS members) or deemed to have been paid at that level in the LGPS.
To ensure continuity of reckonable service the employee may wish to continue to pay contributions for the adoption leave period and it is advised that they contact the Pension and Payroll Manager on ext. 222021, who will advise and make the necessary arrangements.
Pay Rises Whilst on Adoption Leave
If the employee is awarded a pay rise (or would have been awarded such a rise) had they not been absent on adoption leave their Occupational Adoption Pay (OAP) must be increased to take the pay rise into account.
Section D: Keeping in Touch Days
Summary of Entitlement
Employees who are taking maternity or adoption leave have the chance to go into work, to undertake training and keep in touch without bringing the period of leave to an end.
Any work done on a day during the employee’s maternity/adoption leave period will count as a whole keeping-in-touch day, even if it is for only an hour or so.
The type of work undertaken on KIT days is a matter of agreement between the employee and their Head of Department. These days may be used for any activity which ordinarily would be classed as work under the employee’s contract, for which they would be paid, and could be particularly useful in enabling the employee to attend a conference, undertake a training activity or attend for a team meeting or personal development interview. Important projects can benefit from the inclusion of employees with valued skills, also training and development can continue during maternity leave.
KIT days are optional. The University may not require an employee to work during maternity leave if the employee does not wish to and they are entitled to turn the opportunity down without suffering any consequences as a result. Similarly, the employee does not have the right to work KIT days if their Head of Department does not agree to them. It is unlawful for an employee to suffer detriment for not agreeing to work KIT days, or for working or considering such work.
When taking maternity leave an employee is allowed up to ten KIT days and these may be undertaken at any stage during the maternity leave period, by agreement with the Head of Department (except during the first two weeks after the baby is born). These KIT days do not extend the maternity leave period in any way as they form part of the whole maternity leave package and can only be taken during maternity leave.
Payment for KIT Days
Payment will be made as follows:-
Payment for KIT days will not exceed full pay. If a KIT day occurs during a period of full Maternity Pay then no additional payment will be made. However the hours worked will not count against the allowance for Occupational Maternity Pay.
If a KIT Day occurs during the period of SMP only, this will be effectively “topped-up” so that the employee receives full pay at their normal hourly rate for the hours worked on the day in question.
If a KIT Day occurs during an unpaid leave period the employee will receive full pay at their normal hourly rate for the hours worked on that day.
If the work carried out during one shift straddles midnight it may be counted as one day for the purposes of KIT days, if the employee’s normal working pattern is such that this would fall within a normal working day.
Payment for KIT days will be pensionable.
Payment for KIT Days will only be made after completion of the day’s work.
A 'Keeping in Touch' (KIT) form is available to record and receive payment for your KIT days.
Any work done on any day during the maternity leave period will count as a whole kit day up to the ten day maximum. In other words, if an employee comes in for a one-hour training session and does no other work that day they will have used one of their KIT days for the purposes of the ten day maximum, although payment will only be made for actual hours worked.
Section E: Paternity Leave and Additional Paternity Leave
Summary of Entitlement
Two consecutive weeks (an employee cannot take odd days off but the weeks can start on any day, e.g Tuesday-Monday) of paternity leave can be taken on or from the date of birth of the child.
Paternity leave must be taken within 8 weeks of the actual date of birth of the child.
The employee will receive full pay for the first week of paternity leave and will then receive Statutory Paternity Pay for the second week or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is less). Tax and national Insurance contributions will be deducted from this amount.
The birth of a child whether living or stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy will legally entitle an employee to full paternity leave and pay.
Paternity Leave Qualification
To qualify for SPP the employee must be the biological father or adopter of the child or mother's husband, partner or civil partner (i.e must be responsible for the child's upbringing).
A father can be eligible for paternity leave and pay even if he is not named on the birth certificate if he is the mother's spouse, partner or civil partner. As the entitlement to paternity leave is based on a relationship with the child's mother, paternity and adoption leave also apply to partnerships of the same sex. Since December 2005 unmarried 'civil partners' have had the same rights as spouses in many respects. This includes an entitlement to paternity, maternity and adoption leave and pay.
To qualify for SPP the employee must have been employed by the University for 26 weeks by the 15th week (qualifying week) before the baby is due.
Leading up to and including the qualifying week the employee must earn a minimum of £107 (The Lower Earning Limit) a week (tax year 2012-13).
The employee must also give the University notice of the date they want to start paternity leave in the 15th week before the baby is due and the date of when they intend to return to work.
Additional Paternity Leave (APL)
Although women are entitled to a possible 52 weeks’ maternity/adoption leave, couples may choose to divide the period of leave entitlement between them. If the mother has returned to work, the father or partner (including same sex partners) will be entitled to a minimum period of 2 weeks and a maximum period of 26 weeks APL (depending on how much leave the mother has had), which in many cases will be paid at the same rate and in the same way as Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP).
APL can be taken between 20 weeks and 1 year after the child is born or placed for adoption.
To qualify for APL an employee must have been employed by the University for 26 weeks by the 15th week (qualifying week) before the baby is due or by the week in which the employee is matched with the child for adoption (in the case of additional adoption leave).
An employee can only take APL if the mother is entitled to maternity leave and/or SMP or Maternity Allowance (MA) and, she has returned to work or is treated as returning to work.
If an employee intends to take the 26 weeks APL the provisions for ‘Keeping in Touch Day’s’(KIT), Annual Leave and Pension contributions apply as for full maternity/adoption leave.
Notification of Intention to Take Additional Paternity Leave
The employee must inform the University in writing 8 weeks before the start of the APL. The employee must include in the letter:
The date the baby is DUE (the expected week of childbirth), the date matched for adoption or (for overseas adoption) officially notified of the adoption
The actual date of the baby’s birth, placement for adoption or (for overseas adoptions) entry into Great Britain
The intended start and finish date of the APL.
The relationship and the appropriate connection with the child (i.e. father or the spouse, civil partner or partner (including same-sex relationships) of the mother or adopter taking adoption leave).
The University will confirm the employee’s dates of APL in writing within 28 days of the employee’s letter.
The employee must also submit a signed declaration from the mother or adopter stating:
their name, address and National Insurance number
they were entitled to either Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance or Statutory Adoption Pay (or Statutory Maternity or Adoption Leave if applying for unpaid leave only)
they have given notice of their intention to return to work and the date they intend to return to work
the start date of their Maternity Allowance, Statutory Maternity Pay or Statutory Adoption Pay period (if applying for Additional Statutory Paternity Pay)
they are the only person taking Additional Paternity Leave or Pay in respect of the child
they consent to the employer processing the information given in the declaration
The declaration also has to state that the employee is either:
the father of the child
mother's spouse, partner or civil partner (including same-sex relationships)
jointly adopting the child with spouse or partner (including same-sex relationships)
the spouse, civil partner or partner (including same-sex relationships) of an overseas adopter
The employee can change the start and end dates of the Additional Paternity Leave or withdraw the request by giving the University 6 weeks’ notice before the old or the new date.
Maternity Support Leave
Maternity support leave can be claimed by the child's father or partner of a pregnant woman if they do not satisfy the requirement for paternity leave. It can also be claimed by anyone nominated by the pregnant woman to assist in the case of the child and to provide support to the mother at or around the time of the birth.
Section F: Parental Leave
Summary of Entitlement
Parental leave offers employees the right to take unpaid time off work to look after their child or make arrangements for their welfare. It can help employees spend more time with their child and strike a better balance between their work and family commitments.
Parental Leave must not amount to more than 18 weeks (which can be taken up to the child’s sixteenth birthday). Employees are entitled to take a maximum of four weeks’ a year.
Employees with a child up to the age of 16, or 18 years if the child is disabled, may apply for parental leave.
Parental Leave Qualification
The employee must have more than one year’s continuous service with the University. The employee must have legal parental responsibility for the child.
Procedure for Applying for Parental Leave
The University must be given 21 days written notice of an employee’s intention to take Parental Leave in excess of four days’ duration.
The written notice must contain details of why the employee needs to take Parental Leave and the dates and periods of time that they wish to be absent.
The University reserves the right to postpone any request for Parental Leave for up to 6 months.
Parental Leave may be taken on a per parent per child basis and can be taken to lengthen paternity and maternity leave within reasonable limits. Leave may be taken in daily or weekly blocks.
The leave can be for any purpose connected with the care of the child.
Section G: Flexible Working
Summary of Entitlement
Employees with children (up to the age of 16, 18 years if the child is disabled) or other dependents (i.e. an adult at the same address) have the right to ask that their employer consider their proposal for flexible working conditions.
Staff should note that this move gives them a right to request flexible working and not an automatic right to alter their work patterns in this way. However, the University takes all such requests seriously and is committed to following best practice in this area.
Staff should also note that, if their request is approved, it constitutes a permanent change in their contracted hours and there is no automatic right to revert back to full-time employment in the future.
Examples of potential Flexible Working arrangements:
Part-time working: Work is generally considered part-time when employers are contracted to work anything less than full-time hours.
Term-time working: A worker remains on a open ended contract but is not required to work during school holidays.
Job-sharing: A form of part-time working where two (or occasionally more) people share the responsibility for a job between them.
Flexitime: Allows employees to choose, within certain set limits, when to begin and end work.
Compressed hours: Compressed working weeks (or fortnights) do not necessarily involve a reduction in total hours or any extension in individual choice over which hours are worked. The central feature is reallocation of work into fewer and longer blocks during the week.
Annual hours: The period within which full-time employees must work is defined over a whole year.
Working from home on a regular basis: Workers regularly spend time working from home.
Mobile working/teleworking: This permits employees to work all or part of their working week at a location remote from the employer's workplace.
Career breaks: Career breaks, or sabbaticals, are extended periods of unpaid leave.
Qualification to Request Flexible Working
In order to qualify, an employee must:
have worked for the University for 26 weeks' continuously before applying
not have made another application to work flexibly under the right during the past 12 months
have or expect to have parental responsibility of a child aged 17 or under or a disabled child under 18 who receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
be the parent/guardian/special guardian/foster parent/private foster carer or as the holder of a residence order or the spouse, partner or civil partner of one of these and are applying to care for the child
be a carer who cares, or expects to be caring, for an adult who is a spouse, partner, civil partner or relative; or who although not related to the employee, lives at the same address as them
Procedure for Requesting Flexible Working
The initial onus is on the employee to prepare a carefully thought-out written application well in advance of when they would like the desired working pattern to take effect. The employee’s line manager then follows a set procedure to help ensure the request is considered seriously, which seeks to facilitate discussion and enables both parties to gain a clear understanding of each other’s thinking.
Within 28 days both parties are required to meet to discuss the application. The employee is entitled to be accompanied at this meeting by a colleague or trade union representative.
Within 14 days the University will notify the employee of their decision.
If the request is accepted then an agreement for flexible working will be formed and HR will confirm the change to the employee’s contract of employment.
If the request is rejected, the employee is entitled to a written explanation detailing why they have been refused flexible working.
The employee’s line manager may only refuse a request where there is a recognised business ground for doing so. These are:-
Burden of additional costs
Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
Inability to recruit additional staff
Detrimental impact on quality
Detrimental impact on performance
Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
Planned structural changes.
If the request is not accepted then the employee may appeal in accordance with the appeal stage of the relevant grievance procedure.
If the appeal is accepted then an agreement for flexible working will be formed and HR will confirm the change to the employee’s contract of employment.
There are provisions for other forms of leave which are dealt with by the University’s provisions for Special Leave and Leave of Absence.
Author: HR (AEPL): Last amended Sept 2012