UCL Human Resources


Ordinary Parental Leave (unpaid) Policy

Entitlements and support available to employees who wish to take Ordinary (unpaid) Parental Leave


  1. Purpose and aim
  2. Scope
  3. Policy 
  4. Monitoring of policy

1. Purpose and aim

1.1 UCL recognises that parents and guardians may wish to spend additional time with their children, to supplement maternity, paternity (partner’s) leave, adoption and shared parental leave. This policy sets out UCL’s entitlements to ordinary parental leave (OPL).

1.2 For further information on other types of leave available for parents, guardians and carers please see the relevant policy A-Z section on the policy page

2. Scope

2.1 An employee who is a parent (or other person with formal parental responsibility for a child under the age of 18) and who has one year's continuous service with UCL, is entitled to apply for OPL.

3. Policy

3.1 Entitlement to Ordinary Parental Leave

3.1.1 Ordinary parental leave is unpaid. 

3.1.2 Eligible employees are entitled to request up to a total of 18 weeks’ OPL for each child and adopted child, up to their 18th birthday (pro rata for part time employees).

3.1.3 OPL can be requested in blocks of time agreed with the employee's line manager, taking into account the nature of the work, for up to a maximum of four weeks per block of leave, for each individual child in any one year.  

3.1.4 If just part of a week is requested (for example one or two days) it will be considered that one week’s OPL has been used.  

3.1.5 Line managers may on occasion require an employee to postpone OPL for a period of up to six months, if the needs of the service require them to do so. Exceptions to this requirement may be where the leave is triggered by the birth or adoption of a child, or when it is requested immediately following a period of maternity leave, adoption leave, shared parental leave or paternity/partner’s leave. 

3.1.6 Factors which may require the line manager to request the postponement of OPL could include the need to:

•    avoid clashing with a peak workload or holiday period
•    take into account the absence of colleagues
•    find a way in which the work of the employee can be covered.

3.2 Conditions of service during ordinary parental leave

3.2.1 Employees are not permitted to work for another organisation during OPL. 

3.2.2 Employees are not eligible for statutory or occupational sick pay during periods of unpaid leave. 

3.2.3 Employees continue to accumulate statutory annual leave during periods of OPL but can only take annual leave at the end of a period of OPL or after they return to work.

3.2.4 Incremental salary progression will continue during periods of OPL where applicable.

3.2.5 While on OPL, employees remain bound by certain terms and conditions of their employment with UCL, including in particular those relating to confidentiality and intellectual property.  

3.2.6 During OPL employees will remain under their contract of employment (with the exception of any entitlements to occupational holiday and sick pay listed above). Their continuity of service will therefore not be broken and the period of leave will count towards the employee’s continuous service. Employees who take OPL will normally return to the same position unless there is an organisational change in their department whilst they are absent and/or they need to be redeployed in accordance with to the Redeployment Procedure.  In the event of a reorganisation, employees on OPL would be consulted accordingly. 

3.3 Pension contributions during ordinary parental leave 

3.3.1 A summary of the impact of pensions on unpaid leave, whether via short term unpaid leave or career break, can be found in the current Unpaid Leave Policy. For further information regarding pensions please contact UCL Pensions Services

3.4 Notification Process

3.4.1 An employee wishing to apply for OPL should notify their line manager of this request by submitting a request for unpaid leave in Employee Self Service, in MyHR.

3.4.2 They must also provide a copy of the child's birth certificate, the EWC date if the child is not yet born or the adoption matching certificate. 

3.4.3 The request must be submitted to the Line Manager with as much notice as possible and allowing a minimum of 21 days before they want the leave to begin. 

3.4.4 The dates of OPL will be approved by the employee's line manager, subject to service needs as per section 3.1.5. 

3.4.5 If the line manager wishes to postpone the employee’s leave, then within seven days of receiving the employee's request, they should notify the employee that their application will have to be amended. The line manager should include:

•    The reason for the postponement 
•    Alternative dates proposed for the OPL

3.4.6 If the proposed alternative dates are acceptable to the employee but start after or stretch beyond the 18th birthday of the child, the employee can still take OPL if they wish. 

3.5 In case of any disagreement between the employee and the line manager as to which type of leave most closely relates to the reason for the employee’s request for time off work, the line manager should ask their HR Business Partner for advice. 

4. Monitoring of policy

The Employment Policy Team will keep the monitoring of ordinary parental leave and the operation of this policy under review.

July 2023