Guidance on Fixed Term Contracts and/or funded from external funding sources in relation to Maternity/Adoption/Additional Paternity Leave

1. Introduction

All employees are entitled to maternity/adoption/paternity leave, subject to meeting the relevant eligibility criteria (as defined within our relevant policies) and should they need to access any of these schemes should notify their manager or Principal Investigator (PI) as soon as reasonably possible.

In addition to the Maternity/Adoption Toolkits, the below information seeks to offer further specific guidance in relation to those staff members funded externally or on fixed term contracts, when planning for either maternity/adoption or paternity leave.

2. Responsibilities of Managers/Principal Investigators (PIs)

When advised by a staff member that they are pregnant, seeking to adopt or require additional paternity leave the Manager/PI should undertake the below actions (additional issues to consider before, during and after such leave is also outlined within the ‘Planning’ section of the maternity and adoption toolkits, which should also be referred to):

  • Discuss with the individual their plans in relation to anticipated timing, duration of absence, etc. (though it should be recognised that they may not have determined this clearly yet);
  • Refer the individual to the relevant leave policy and procedure and advise of the need to complete a Notification Form. This form enables the staff member to notify both their department and the University of their leave plans, and provide sufficient information to agree/acknowledge this;
  • Consider the options available to accommodate the leave, seeking advice from both Human Resources and Finance as appropriate. This may involve requesting a joint meeting with Human Resources and Finance representatives to determine the options available, which would be organised by your HR Team contact upon request. Other attendees could include some or all of the following: PI, Departmental Manager, HR Adviser/Assistant, Research Finance representative, etc. For example, for a research project funded by an external sponsor the options may include seeking a temporary replacement post, asking the sponsor to place the grant in abeyance or requesting a no cost extension;
  • Having determined the options available in terms of the individual’s leave entitlement, what provision may be provided by the sponsor and how best to manage work commitments during the period of absence, discuss the options with the employee and implement any agreed follow up action agreed supported by the Human Resources and/or Finance as appropriate;
  • Agree annual leave arrangements prior to the leave commencing wherever possible.

For maternity cases, the Manager/PI should also:

  • Organise a risk assessment to be undertaken to identify any risk to the health of the individual or that of their unborn child. This may require the implementation of reasonable adjustments to remove or mitigate any such risks;
  • Keep in regular contact with the pregnant staff member as their needs may change over time;
  • Seek any specialist advice required from Human Resources, Staff Occupational Health or Health & Safety depending on the nature of the work/stage of pregnancy and as circumstances dictate;
  • Advice and support is available to the Manager/PI, department or staff member at any stage of the process from their HR Team contact and Finance/Research Finance team.

3. Checklist of Key Considerations

The Manager/PI may need to explore some or all of the below issues, seeking support via a joint HR/Finance meeting if required:

  • What is the individual’s entitlement to the leave?
  • Who is the funder/sponsor and what provision do they offer to support such leave requests?
  • What are the obligations to the sponsor e.g. notification of any changes and by whom/when?
  • What options will the sponsor accommodate to cover such absence and on what basis e.g. will the sponsor allow the grant to be placed in abeyance, fund the extension of the staff member’s fixed term contract and/or a temporary replacement?
  • Who will fund the maternity/adoption/APL pay during the period of absence, e.g. the sponsor, the Faculty/department, University maternity fund, etc.
  • What should happen to the work during the staff member’s absence?
  • What actions are required and by whom?
  • What is the contractual status of the staff member? For example, if an individual is on a fixed term contract, how will this impact on:

i. their eligibility to claim the leave and its potential duration?
ii. access to paid leave?
iii. access to the redeployment register and the timing of this?

  • Can ‘keeping in touch’ days be utilised?
  • What are the next steps and who will undertake the necessary actions? This may include submitting a contract change request within e-Recruitment, commencing the redundancy consultation process, facilitating access to the redeployment register, commencing the recruitment process to appoint a temporary replacement etc.