Parental Leave Procedure

1. General information
2. Criteria for eligibility
3. Amount of leave
4. Definition of a week's leave
5. Taken leave
6. Notice
7. Flexibility
8. Evidence
9. Contractual arrangements
10. Superannuation contributions
11. Records
12. Application procedure

1. General Information

Unpaid Parental Leave is available for staff to look after a child or make arrangements for a child's welfare. The University of Sheffield Policy on Parental Leave meets the requirements of the Maternity and Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2001, which came into force on 10 January 2002 and operates in addition to existing maternity, paternity and adoption leave schemes. This policy also reflects the provisions of The Civil Partnership Bill, which came into force on 5th December 2005, as well as the changes that came into force on 6 April 2015.

2. Criteria for Eligibility

To qualify for Parental Leave staff must, under the Parental Leave Regulations:

  • be a named parent on the birth certificate of a child who is under the age of eighteen and have one years' continuous service with the University
  • be a legally adoptive parent of a child adopted on or after 15 December 1999, who is under the age of eighteen and have one years' continuous service with the University
  • have acquired formal parental responsibility* for a child who is under the age of eighteen (to include civil partners)
  • be a named parent on the birth certificate of a disabled child who is under the age of eighteen and have one years’ continuous service with the University

* As defined by the Children Act 1989 and the Children (Scotland) Act 1995

3. Amount of Leave

A total of 18 weeks unpaid Parental Leave can be taken for each child up to the age of eighteen years, including the parents of disabled children.

The leave must be used to look after the child or to make arrangements for their welfare (e.g. to settle a child into a new nursery).

4. Definition of a Week's Leave

One week´s parental leave is equal to the length of time that a member of staff is normally required to work in a week. This means that a week´s leave for a member of staff who works Monday to Friday, full time, is equal to five days, whilst a week´s leave for a member of staff who works Monday and Tuesday only is equal to 2 days.

Where a member of staff´s working pattern varies from week to week the average working week needs to be calculated as a fraction of the period for which they are required to work in a year. For example, a member of staff who is employed for 3 days a week for 30 weeks and 2 days a week for 22 weeks would calculate the number of days in their average working week by dividing the total number of working days in these periods by 52:

Average working week: 3 x 30 + 2 x 22 / 52 = 2.5 days

5. Taken Leave

Staff may choose to take Parental Leave as follows:

  • Parents can take the leave at any time up until the child's eighteenth birthday
  • For adoptive children parents can take the leave any time in the eighteen years after the child is first placed with the family or up until the child's 18th birthday, whichever is the sooner
  • For disabled children parents can take the leave any time up until the child's 18th birthday.

Leave is to be taken in blocks of one week upwards, up to a maximum of four weeks per year. As set out under the Parental Leave Regulations, parents of disabled children may take leave in blocks or multiples of one day.

6. Notice

Staff are required to apply for Parental Leave at least 21 days before they wish to take it. However, in order that appropriate arrangements within the member of staff's Department can be made, staff are asked to provide as much notice as possible of their wish to take a period of Parental Leave.

A member of staff wishing to take Parental Leave immediately after the birth or adoption of a child is required to give 21 days notice before the beginning of the expected week of childbirth and in the case of adoption, 21 days notice of the expected week of placement.

7. Flexibility

Where the work of the Department would be particularly disrupted if the leave were taken at the time requested, following discussion between the Head of Department and member of staff, the period of leave may be postponed for up to 6 months from when it was originally due to start. In such cases, the Head of Department will confirm the reasons for the postponement and new dates for the period of Parental Leave in writing to the member of staff, no later the 7 days after they have first given notice to take the leave.

N.B. When a member of staff applies to take a period of Parental Leave immediately after a child is born or is placed with the family for adoption, the leave cannot be postponed.

8. Evidence

Before leave is granted the member of staff requesting Parental Leave will be asked to provide evidence to confirm that the criteria under Section 2. above are met. Examples of documents appropriate for this purpose include the child's birth certificate, or, in adoption cases, papers confirming a child's adoption or the date of placement, or if leave is to be taken following the birth of a child, proof of the expected week of childbirth. Where the original documents are not available photocopies will be accepted.

9. Contractual Arrangements

Staff will remain employed while on Parental Leave but will be not be paid. Where a member of staff returns to work following Parental Leave, the period of absence due to Parental Leave will not affect the individual's recognised continuous service for employment rights purposes. Under the Parental Leave Regulations, staff returning to work after taking Parental Leave are entitled to return to the same job as they had before.

10. Superannuation Contributions

Staff have the option to continue their Superannuation contributions during their period of Parental Leave. During periods of unpaid leave an employee's membership of the superannuation scheme will be suspended. If an employee wishes to continue with the superannuation contributions over this period they would have to cover the cost of both the employee's and the employer's contribution.

11. Records

Records of Parental Leave for individual members of staff should be kept at Departmental level. A copy of the application form for Parental Leave received by the Human Resources Department will be placed on the member of staff's personal file. The Human Resources Department may make enquiries of a member of staff's previous employer as to how much Parental Leave they have already taken prior to employment by the University.

12. Application Procedure

a) A member of staff wishing to take Parental Leave should apply to their Head of Department on form PL/1, attaching a photocopy of evidence that they are entitled to Parental Leave for that child (see section 8. evidence). The application should be made as far in advance as possible, and a minimum of 21 days before the date on which the period of leave is due to start.

b) The Head of Department will discuss the application for leave with the member of staff and seek advice from the Human Resources Department if necessary.

i) If the leave is approved, the Head of Department will sign the approval section of form PL/1 adding comments as appropriate, and forward to the Human Resources Department:

  • the application for leave (form PL/1)
  • a copy of evidence that the member of staff is entitled to Parental Leave for that child.

ii) Where the work of the Department would be particularly disrupted if the leave were taken at the time requested, the Head of Department will discuss alternative dates with the member of staff and seek advice from the Human Resources Department if necessary. Following this discussion, the Head of Department will confirm the reasons for any postponement and new dates of leave in writing to the member of staff on form PL/P, no later than 7 days after the member of staff has originally given notice to take leave. (The period of leave may be postponed for up to 6 months from when it was originally due to start. However, the leave cannot be postponed when a member of staff gives 21 days notice to take leave immediately after a child is born or placed with a family for adoption.) The Head of Department will then forward to the Human Resources Department:

  • the original application for leave (form PL/1)
  • a copy of evidence that the member of staff is entitled to Parental Leave for that child
  • a copy of form PL/P containing details of the revised arrangements for leave.

c) On receipt of the completed application form(s) from the Head of Department, the Human Resources Department will:

  • advise the Salaries Office on form PL/D, of the adjustments required to the member of staff's salary and Superannuation contributions (if applicable) to reflect the period of unpaid Parental Leave
  • place a copy of the application form and evidence of entitlement to leave on the member of staff's personal file.

For further advice on the application of this policy please contact the Department of Human Resources - Business Support.