Family Leave - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question Categories:

Who receives written confirmation of the maternity/adoption/shared parental leave?

Payroll writes to the staff member, with copies sent to their HOD, Line Manager/Principal Investigator, HR, Pensions and Finance.

If, having received the enhanced University maternity/adoption/shared parental pay the individual chooses not to return to work, how does the reclaim process work?

Payroll will calculate the net overpayment i.e. the difference between the University’s enhanced provisions and the statutory entitlements. This will then be used to generate an invoice that will be sent to them. Upon receipt of this the staff member should contact the income office to arrange repayment. If the individual received the equivalent of statutory pay i.e. in a surrogacy situation the University retains the right to reclaim the full payment made.

Maternity

What is a MATB1 Certificate?

This is a certificate issued by the GP or midwife, verifying the fact of pregnancy and confirming the expected week of childbirth (EWC) (or actual date of birth in cases where the child is born early), and is available from 20 weeks before the EWC.

What is a staff member’s entitlement to maternity leave if she decides to leave the University before her notified start date of maternity leave?

She will not be eligible for maternity leave but may still be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) if she was employed after the 15th week before the Expected Week of Confinement (EWC).

Where a staff member takes annual leave prior to her maternity leave, but gives birth early, will her maternity leave still start after the period of annual leave?

No. Ordinary maternity leave is triggered by childbirth. Given that it is not possible for employees to take annual leave and maternity leave simultaneously, if an employee gives birth while she is on annual leave, her annual leave will cease and her maternity leave will commence.

What happens if my pregnancy does not go to plan?

Fortunately these situations are rare, but if a baby should die or is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy, the Maternity Scheme including its leave/pay provision, will still apply. Where the baby dies before this period, absence due to ill health will come under the University’s Sickness Absence Management policy.

The Manager should contact a staff member to discuss their needs in these circumstances and inform HR of the situation. It may be appropriate to offer/seek the services of Workplace Health & Wellbeing, who can in turn recommend appropriate external support agencies (see Charities & Support Networks within the maternity toolkit).

Where can the contact details for the local 'Job Centre Plus' be found?

To find out how to contact your local Job Centre Plus, please refer to the following GOV.UK information webpages.

How should a manager record the taking of KIT day/s?

A manual record of the days taken should be maintained to ensure that the staff member does not exceed the statutory provision of up to 10 days. This is important as they would lose a week’s maternity/adoption/paternity pay for each week that the days over 10 KIT days worked fell within, even if it only involved a few hours of activity.

Are the 10 KIT days pro-rated for part time staff?

No, up to 10 KIT days are available to all eligible staff, no matter what their hours of work are.

Adoption

Who is eligible to take Adoption/Surrogacy Leave?

There are a number of eligibility criteria which are listed in the Adoption/Surrogacy Leave procedure.
The right to adoption leave under the University's procedure is available to an individual adopter or one member of a couple jointly adopting or one of the intended parents subject to a surrogacy Parental Order. It is up to the adoptive couple/intended parents to decide which of them applies for this leave.

The Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2002 defines “the adopter”, in relation to a child, as a person who has been matched with the child for adoption, or, in a case where two people have been matched jointly, whichever of them has elected to be the child’s adopter.

Paternity/Partner leave is also available to the spouse, civil partner or partner of either sex of a child’s adopter, or to one of a couple who jointly adopt a child or have entered into a legal surrogacy arrangement.

“Partner”, in relation to a child’s mother or adopter, means a person (whether of a different sex or the same sex) who lives with the mother or adopter and the child in an enduring family relationship but is not a relative of the mother or adopter i.e. mother’s or adopter’s parent, grandparent, sister, brother, aunt or uncle.

Does an employee due to take paid statutory adoption leave in relation to a child still qualify for adoption pay if the staff member leaves the University’s employment before the leave is due to start?

To qualify for statutory adoption pay (SAP) a staff member who is adopting a child from within the UK must have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks ending with the week in which he or she is notified of having been matched with the child. He or she must be in employment with the University at the beginning of that week. As long as the individual meets this and the other eligibility requirements, s/he will remain entitled to SAP if they leave the employment before the leave is due to start.

What if a staff member is not eligible for the statutory payment in relation to adoption?

Where the staff member is not entitled to Options A, B, or C (see procedure), they may be able to seek financial support from the government. Further information should be sought from Job Centre Plus.

What is the entitlement where there is more than one employer?

In such circumstances the staff member is responsible for notifying the Payroll Team that s/he works for another employer, as SAP can be received from each employer for which an individual satisfies all the terms and conditions. Further information/guidance in such circumstances should be sought from the Payroll Team.

When will a period of adoption leave be classed as being ‘disrupted’?

The adoption leave period will be disrupted where the expected placement does not occur; or the child is returned to the adoption agency or dies. In such cases, the staff member’s adoption leave period ends eight weeks after the end of the week in which: the adopter is notified that the placement will not be made, the child is returned or dies.

In such circumstances should the staff member wish to return to work earlier than the 8 week period this should be raised with their manager. The manager, depending upon the individual circumstances of the situation, including business need, may in some circumstances be able to consider/accommodate some flexibility.

What is classed as an overseas adoption?

An overseas adoption occurs where a child enters Great Britain from outside the UK in connection with or for the purposes of adoption, which does not involve the placement of the child for adoption under the law of any part of the UK. Such situations are the rarity rather than the norm.

When can adoption leave start for those adopting from overseas?

For adoptions from overseas leave can be taken either:
• From the date the child enters the UK, or
• No later than 28 days after the child has entered the UK

How should the staff member notify the University of adoption of a child from Overseas?

In such cases the staff member is encouraged to speak to their HR Team Contact for further information regarding the University’s adoption leave policy and the specific notification requirements. In terms of notification, staff should notify their line manager within 28 days of receiving an official notification from the relevant domestic authority, confirming the date on which the official notification was received and the date the child is expected to enter Great Britain. Once the child enters Great Britain, staff should give at least 28 days’ advance notice of the date adoption leave is to start, as well as evidence (e.g. a plane ticket) confirming the child’s arrival.

Paternity/Partner Leave

Who is eligible to take Ordinary Paternity/Partner Leave (OPL)?

There are a number of eligibility criteria which are listed in the Paternity/Partner Leave procedure. However, the following individuals may be eligible for such leave (if they meet this criteria and are not taking maternity or adoption leave):
• A father
• A spouse, civil partner, partner of the child’s mother who is not the baby’s father
• A spouse, civil partner, partner of the adopter who has been jointly matched for adoption of the child or
• A spouse, civil partner, partner of the adopter adopting a child from abroad
• One of a couple jointly entering into a legal surrogacy arrangement subject to a parental order (this is a University provision as there is currently no statutory provision at present)
Civil partner/partner could include transsexuals or those undergoing transgender reassignment, if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Is it possible for a woman to take paternity/partner leave?

The right to statutory paternity/partner leave is available to the civil partner of the biological mother of a child. It is also available to the partner of the biological mother of a child, where "partner" means a person of either sex who lives with the mother or adopter in an enduring family relationship but is not an immediate relative (i.e. is not the child’s mother or adopter’s: parent, grandparent, sibling, uncle or aunt).

The term ‘mother’ is defined in relation to paternity/partner leave as the mother who gave birth to the child i.e. the biological mother. However, it is recognised that in some female same sex relationships the term ‘mother’ is used for both parents.

Paternity/Partner leave is also available to the spouse, civil partner or partner of either sex of a child’s adopter, or to one of a couple who jointly adopt a child or for University staff who enter into a legal surrogacy arrangement.

What would the entitlement be to Paternity/Partner Leave for those who work part time?

The eligibility criteria are the same whether an individual works full or part time, and any leave/pay provisions under the scheme will be pro-rated to reflect the commitment level of any part time contracts. For example an individual working 3 days a week will be entitled to 2 weeks OPL i.e. 6 working days.

Can the University request proof of eligibility for such leave?

Yes. The University can request that the staff member provide proof such as: a copy of the child’s birth certificate, a copy of the surrogate mothers MATB1 certificate, a surrogate intended parents ‘parental order’ or documents issued by the adoption agency showing: the name and address of the adoption agency; the date that the staff member was matched with the child; and the expected date of placement and where relevant date of the child’s entry into GB, and ask for the name and address of the mother’s/adopter’s employer (or her/his business address if s/he is self-employed).

Under what circumstances would a withdrawal notice have to be provided?

This must be supplied if the staff member no longer meets the eligibility criteria. For example:
• They no longer meet the requirements of being the child’s father or married to or the civil partner/partner of the mother/other adopter
• They no longer meet the requirement of having or expecting to have the main responsibility for the child (or in the case of UK adoptions they no longer meet the requirement of being matched with the child for adoption)
• The mother/adopter is no longer entitled to maternity/adoption leave, statutory pay or maternity allowance or has failed to return to work
If uncertain please speak to the your Human Resources Team contact.

Shared Parental Leave

Can both parents take shared parental leave at the same time?

Yes, both parents can be absent from work on shared parental leave at the same time.
The amount of shared parental leave that the parents can share is 52 weeks, minus the amount of maternity leave taken by the mother, or adoption leave taken by the primary adopter. All leave must be taken before the child's first birthday, or before the first anniversary of the day on which the child was placed for adoption. For example, the mother could take two weeks' compulsory maternity leave followed by 40 weeks' shared parental leave. This would leave 10 weeks' shared parental leave for the father (or the mother's partner) to take at any time before the child's first birthday, either at the same time as the mother or when she has returned to work.

When will the father/partner of a child be eligible to take shared parental leave?

There is a two-stage test for eligibility for shared parental leave: an employee must be eligible in his or her own right and the employee's partner must also meet certain eligibility requirements.

The father/partner will be eligible for shared parental leave to care for the child if he or she:
• has at least 26 weeks' continuous employment by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth and remains in continuous employment with that employer until the week before any period of shared parental leave that he or she takes;
• has the main responsibility for the care of the child at the date of the birth (apart from the responsibility of the mother); and
• has complied with the relevant notice and evidence requirements.

In addition, the child's mother must:
• have been employed or self-employed during at least 26 of the 66 weeks before the expected week of childbirth;
• have average weekly earnings of at least £30 for any 13 of those 66 weeks;
• have the main responsibility for the child at the date of the birth (apart from the responsibility of the employee);
• be entitled to statutory maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance in respect of the child; and
• have curtailed her statutory maternity leave, or if she is not entitled to statutory maternity leave, curtailed her statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance.

What happens if the mother is already on maternity leave that works at the University and wants to take Shared Parental Leave?

The mother would need to curtail her maternity leave to take up shared parental leave by completing the period of leave change form if currently on maternity. If the maternity has not commenced you would need to complete the Shared Parental Leave notification form.

How much notice do I have to give to take Shared Parental Leave once on Maternity leave?

You are required to give 8 weeks’ notice.

How should a manager record the taking of SPLIT day/s?

A manual record of the days taken should be maintained to ensure that the staff member does not exceed the statutory provision of up to 20 days. This is important as they would lose a week’s maternity/adoption/paternity pay for each week that the days over 20 SPLIT days worked fell within, even if it only involved a few hours of activity.

Are the 20 SPLIT days pro-rated for part time staff?

No, up to 20 SPLIT days are available to all eligible staff, no matter what their hours of work are.

Surrogacy

What is a surrogate parental order?

A 'Parental Order' reassigns parenthood, extinguishing the parental status of the surrogate parents and conferring full parental status and parental responsibility on both intended parents. The legal application process for such an order normally takes appropriately 6 months.

Can a 'copy' of the birth mother’s MATB1 Certificate be provided rather than the original?

In the case of surrogacy arrangements this is possible as the birth mother will need to retain the original for her own application for maternity leave. However, it is important that the staff member first enables their manager or the Payroll Team to see the original so they can verify the copy by signing to state that they have seen the original.

Annual Leave

Can a staff member take paid annual leave during the unpaid period of adoption/paternity/maternity/shared parental leave?

Any annual leave must be taken outside of the family leave period, as staff cannot be on two types of leave at the same time in such cases. The benefits of this include: the fact that it gives both managers and staff increased flexibility when planning for the maternity/shared parental leave/paternity/adoption absence as well as simplifies the process, with annual leave/bank holidays and closure days no longer part of the family leave calculations. However, any period of annual leave taken during such leave will be deemed to be a return to work (i.e. the end of the given family leave period). For further details please refer to the relevant family leave Procedure.

Do any bank holidays/closure days that fall during the family leave period have to be ‘tagged’ onto the end of this period?

No, they can be added to the individual’s annual leave entitlement and taken at a time agreed with their manager.

What if annual leave has been booked to start immediately before the anticipated start date of the maternity/adoption/shared parental leave period, and the baby arrives earlier than expected, or the placement occurs earlier than expected?

In such circumstances the staff member should advise their manager and the Payroll Team, as soon as reasonably practicable, as their maternity/adoption/shared parental leave will start on the day of the birth/placement. The remaining unused booked annual leave can be taken following their physical return to work or tagged immediately onto the end of the maternity/adoption leave period thus delaying their physical return to work, subject to their manager’s agreement.

If the maternity/adoption/paternity leave period crosses over into a new leave year (i.e. 1st October of each year), can annual leave be carried over into the new leave year?

The need for carryover of annual leave will be dependent upon the period of maternity leave, though in most cases there should be plenty of time leading up to the family leave period to effectively plan the use of annual leave (whilst also ensuring appropriate rest periods). Such requests should be raised as soon as possible with the individual’s line manager and will be subject to their agreement, with managers having to consider amongst other factors the ability to meet continuing business needs.

How can the annual leave entitlement be used during a year where a period of family leave is also being taken?

Annual leave accrues during the full family leave period, and can be booked as normal, in agreement with the staff member’s manager. Staff are expected to take their annual leave in the leave year it is accrued, however, where they are unable to take all their annual leave entitlement during the leave year it may be possible for this to be carried over into the next leave year, subject to managers approval.

Can a manager decline a request to take annual leave?

All requests for annual leave are subject to the individual’s line manager’s approval, and though a manager will give reasonable consideration to all such requests they will always have to consider these in line with their business needs and responsibilities.

How is annual leave and any agreed carryover of annual leave recorded?

Once annual leave has been agreed with the line manager this should be recorded in the usual manner (e.g. either via the retention of manual records or through MyJob).

Important Note: When booking leave in MyJob, if the annual leave period falls within the next annual leave year, the line manager should email their Faculty HR Assistant with the following information:
1. The number of days/hours of annual leave that is to be carried over from the current annual leave year to the next annual leave year.
2. Request that an annual leave record for the next annual leave year is created if the record has not yet been created (this may not always be required depending on the time of year).
The annual leave quotas requested will then be created and the member of staff will be able to book their annual leave as normal. Any annual leave carried over will be deducted from the current leave year total.

Pensions

If taking period of unpaid leave how will this affect an individual’s pension?

Whenever a staff member who is a contributing member of a pension scheme has any unpaid leave, pension contributions to the Scheme are suspended. This means that you do not accrue any service for this period. Therefore, service in the Scheme and the resulting pension are reduced by the relevant period.

However, when the individual returns to work, they will have the opportunity to make up the shortfall in contributions and restore their pensionable service to that which it would have been had they not been on unpaid leave. Any contributions repaid will be based on the pay they would have received had they not been absent (notional pay). Please note that in order to make up the shortfall in contributions the staff member would have to pay both the employer and employee contributions during the period. All pension queries should be raised with the Pensions Team.

Salary Sacrifice and Childcare Vouchers

Will taking salary sacrifice affect maternity/adoption/paternity/shared parental leave pay?

Calculating such pay is complex. Salary Sacrifice will affect these calculations and the amount the University can claim back from the government but the University will ensure that the amount the individual receives will not be less than the amount they would have received had they not been in salary sacrifice.

The exception to this comes if the individual opts for the University’s 45 week maternity/adoption/shared parental leave option. If the mother/adopter was to take the full 45 weeks of maternity leave, then the last 6 weeks of that leave would be outside of the governments Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) though the University continues to pay the ‘equivalent’ rate. This means that if individual is in Salary Sacrifice, it would reduce the amount received, during the 6 week period by the value of the Salary Sacrifice payments.

Whilst on maternity/adoption/paternity/shared parental leave, can an individual begin to take Childcare Vouchers?

According to the Equality Act 2010, employees are entitled to continue to receive the contractual benefits during such family leave that they received immediately prior to that leave. If the individual was not in receipt of the contractual benefit of Childcare Vouchers, immediately prior to their family leave period, the University is not obliged to provide this benefit during the leave. Due to this, and the related costs of providing childcare vouchers during family leave, an individual will not be able to join Childcare until Vouchers their maternity/adoption/paternity leave period has ended.

If on maternity/adoption/paternity/shared parental leave (referred to below as family leave), and already participating in Childcare Vouchers, can the order be amended?

The University is not obliged to increase this benefit during family leave. Due to this, and the related costs of providing childcare vouchers individuals will not be able to increase their Childcare Voucher order during the leave. They can decrease their order if they wish, but individuals will only be able to increase it back up to the level it was at immediately before their family leave.

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