UCL's policy for entitlements to Shared Parental Leave and Pay and Ordinary Parental Leave.
The policy for maternity leave (including surrogacy) can be found here.
The policy for paternity/partner's leave can be found here.
The policy for adoption leave can be found here.
The policy on Fertility leave can be found in the Special Leave Policy.
1.1. This document sets out UCL's policy for entitlements to Shared Parental Leave and Pay and Ordinary Parental Leave.
2.1. This policy applies to all UCL employees regardless of length of service or funding source.
3.1 See Appendix A for definitions and abbreviations used throughout this Policy and Procedure.
4.1 Shared Parental Leave- Criteria for Entitlement
4.1.1 There is no qualifying length of service requirement for Shared Parental Leave (ShPL) or Occupational Shared Parental Pay (OSPP) however staff need to fulfil Statutory Shared Parental Pay (SSPP) qualification requirements to receive statutory pay.
4.1.2 An employee can choose to bring their ML/AL to an end at any point after the compulsory two week period following the birth/adoption of the child and to share the remaining entitlement with their partner (including a same sex partner or trans partner): Therefore the maximum amount of leave that can be shared between the parents is 50 weeks. The leave must be taken during the 12 months following the birth or adoption of a child.
4.1.3 If the partner of a primary adopter or employee who has given birth wishes to take leave during the first two weeks following the placement/birth of a child, they should request to use Paternity/Partner's Leave.
4.2 Eligibility for Shared Parental Leave
4.2.1 ShPL can be taken by each parent separately. Alternatively, some or all of it may be taken simultaneously.
4.2.2 To qualify for ShPL at UCL, an employee must have, or expect to have responsibility for caring for the child.
4.2.3 For ShPL to commence, the parent or primary adoptive parent must have given notice to end their ML or AL, or have returned to work.
4.2.4 An employee wishing to take ShPL must ensure the necessary notifications and declarations are completed and submitted to their line manager within the timescales specified. These can be found in Appendix D.
4.2.5 If the employee is not the parent or primary adoptive parent, UCL may request:
- A copy of the birth certificate (or copy of MATB1/declaration from the parents if the birth certificate is not yet available)
or in the case of adoption:
- The agency's name and address;
- The date that the adopter was notified of being matched with the child;
- The date on which the child is expected to be placed with the family;
- The name and address of their partner's employer (or, if they are self-employed, a declaration from the partner that there is no employer).
4.2.6 In addition to Occupational Shared Parental Pay, an employee will be eligible for SSPP if they:
- have been continuously employed by UCL for 26 weeks up to and including the 15th week before the EWC, or week in which they are matched for adoption; and
- remain continuously employed in the week before any ShPL is due to start; and
- have earned above the ‘lower earnings limit' in the relevant period.
and additionally, their partner must:
- have, or expect to have, responsibility for caring for the child;
- have been an employed or self-employed earner in Great Britain for a total of 26 weeks (not necessarily continuously )in the period of 66 weeks leading up to the week the child is due (or matched for adoption);
- have earned an average of at least £30 a week in 13 of those 26 weeks; and consent to the employee taking ShPL
4.3 Shared Parental Leave: Periods of Leave
4.3.1 Any period of ML/AL taken by the parent or primary adoptive parent will be deducted from the period of 50 weeks' ShPL, with the balance available to be shared between the parents. The leave can be taken subject to the following requirements:
- It is for a minimum period of at least one week;
- It is taken in multiples of complete weeks;
- It is taken as one continuous period or as up to 3 discontinuous periods.
4.3.2 This means that a parent or primary adoptive parent can return to work after ML or AL and take ShPL at a later date or dates (subject to the notice requirements explained below). Similarly, their partner can take ShPL at any time.
4.3.3 ShPL can be taken by one parent whilst their partner is on another type of leave, such as Paternity Leave or Ordinary Parental Leave. Additionally, a parent or primary adopter does not have to have actually ended their ML/AL for ShPL to start for their partner, provided they have given the required 8 weeks notice of their intention to do so.
4.4 Shared Parental Leave Notification
4.4.1 If an employee is eligible for and intends to take ShPL, they must provide their line manager with the following:
- Notice indicating an intention to end ML or AL, if the employee is the Birth-Parent/primary adopter or a separate notice of a partner's intention to do so;
- A notice of entitlement to take ShPL (see Appendix D). The notice of entitlement must be submitted at least eight weeks before the employee intends to take a period of ShPL;
- A notice of their planned period/s of ShPL using a Period of Leave Notice (PLN) form (see Appendix D).
4.4.2 An employee is entitled to submit three separate PLNs. This means that an employee could book three separate periods of ShPL during the child's first year in the family. A PLN is usually binding and cannot typically be withdrawn.
4.4.3 If an employee wishes to vary the period/s of ShPL requested, they must notify their line manager (see Appendix D).
4.5 Shared Parental Pay
4.5.1 If ShPL is taken immediately following the two week period of compulsory ML/AL, employees are eligible to receive up to 16 weeks Occupational Shared Parental Pay (OSPP). OSPP will only be paid up to the 18th week after the birth/adoption. If the parents are sharing leave during this period they should nominate which partner will claim the enhanced occupational pay – or part thereof if they are sharing. The actual payment is not transferred between organisations so if a non-UCL partner is claiming the enhanced element the partner’s organisation will pay this, subject to eligibility.
4.5.2 An employee on ShPL will also be eligible for Statutory Shared Parental Pay (SSPP) if they have at least 26 weeks' service at the Notification Week (15th week before the EWC) and their average earnings are above the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions.
4.5.3 SSPP is payable for a maximum of 37 weeks (as the Birth-Parent/primary adopter must take the first 2 weeks following birth/adoption). SSPP is included within the weeks of OSPP.
4.5.4 SSPP is paid at a rate fixed by Government, or 90% of average weekly earnings if this is lower. The remaining 13 weeks entitlement to ShPL, for employees entitled to SSPP, are unpaid.
4.5.5 Payment of Shared Parental Pay commences simultaneously with the beginning of the ShPL period and is paid monthly in arrears (in the same way salary is paid). Pay slips will be sent to the employee's home address when they are on ShPL.
4.6 Shared Parental Leave in Touch days
4.6.1 An employee and their manager can (in cases of AL) agree up to 6 a maximum per employee of 20 ‘Shared Parental Leave in Touch' (SPLIT) days. Either the line manager or the employee can suggest the use of these days but they must be agreed by the line manager. Line managers will only agree to a SPLIT day when the day can be structured to ensure that it is used productively. Any work undertaken on a SPLIT day will be treated as a whole SPLIT day, irrespective of the actual amount of time spent at work and will count as a whole day's entitlement.
4.6.2 Employees will receive equivalent paid time off in lieu for time spent working during SPLIT days. TOIL days should be agreed directly with the line manager to be taken on the employee's return from ShPL. SPLIT days not taken are not added to annual leave entitlement.
4.7 Continuity of Employment
4.7.1 Employees are entitled to return to the same job if parental leave (of any type) of 26 weeks or less has been taken, regardless of the number of periods of leave.
4.7.2 Employees who take more than 26 weeks' parental leave have the right to return to either the same job, or a similar job if it is not reasonably practicable to return to the same position. Where an employee exercises their right to return to work, the whole of their absence shall be regarded as part of the period of continuous employment for the calculation of superannuation, seniority benefits, accrual of annual leave and of entitlement to statutory rights.
4.8 Annual Leave
4.8.1 Annual leave (including bank holidays and UCL closure days) is accrued throughout the whole period of ShPL.
4.9 Financial Assistance for Departments
4.9.1 In the event that an employee applies to take ShPL under this policy, the Department may request financial assistance to cover the duties of the absent employee which need to be undertaken within the period of absence and which cannot be covered by other staff in the department within their usual working week.
4.9.2 The majority of Research Councils permit Principal Investigators to extend the duration of a research project by the length of ShPL, or the employment of a second Researcher.
4.9.3 To ensure full financial support can be obtained, including financial support from Research Councils, contact should be made at the earliest opportunity with either the relevant finance or research administration contact.
4.10 Reorganising Duties
4.10.1. In the event that full cover of the duties of the absent employee are not required (because for example, an individual's research cannot be easily picked up by another person) the line manager may, following consultation with the affected staff, propose some fixed term reorganisation of duties within the team.
4.11 Transition from Part-time to Full-time Work
4.11.1 UCL is committed to supporting its employees in maintaining a 'work life balance'. Employees who take extended leave such as ShPL or Ordinary Parental Leave sometimes wish to return to work on a part-time basis. This arrangement may only be required in the short to medium term. If an employee wishes to return to working full time, there is no automatic financial barrier to prevent them from doing so. Such requests should be considered on a case-by-case basis and refused only where there is an objective business reason. The option of reverting to full time working should be discussed ahead of any reduction in hours taking place. For further information about UCL’s commitment and approach to balancing family and work commitments see the Work Life Balance Policy.
4.12 End of Employment
4.12.1 For employees with open-ended appointments who decide not to return to work following a period of ShPL, employment will end once entitlement to and accumulated annual leave is exhausted, unless they commence employment with another employer prior to this date. An employee choosing not to return to work, should give their line manager notice of this intention in line with the terms of their contract of employment. Ending of employment in this manner is treated as a resignation.
4.12.2 Employees choosing not to return to work after a period of ShPL accumulate entitlement to annual leave, which must be taken at the end of this period. Under these circumstances, an employee's appointment will terminate on the last day of annual leave. At the end of the statutory pay period, wages will continue to be paid at the rate of full pay for any accumulated entitlement to untaken annual leave, after which a P45 will be sent to the employee's home address.
4.12.3 For employee’s whose contract ends (e.g. end of fixed term contract or redundancy) during a period of parental leave (of whatever type), UCL will pay the appropriate occupational pay entitlement until the last day of employment. After this date, if an employee is entitled to statutory pay, this will be paid until the end of the 39-week period, plus any outstanding annual leave.
4.12.4 UCL rules about managing redundancy apply during ShPL, including the full range of measures to support redeployment options.
4.13.1 Where an employee fosters on a regular basis or is a 'professional' foster carer, they are not entitled to any kind of parental leave in a fostering capacity, other than in exceptional circumstances. In the case of a request under these circumstances, the manager should contact their HR Business Partner for advice.
4.14 Ordinary Parental Leave
4.14.1 Ordinary Parental Leave (OPL) can be used by employees wanting to spend more time with their children, in order to balance work and family commitments. A parent (other person with formal parental responsibility for a child under the age of 18) who has one year's continuous service with UCL, is entitled to apply for OPL. OPL is unpaid. The current entitlement is 18 weeks’ leave for each child and adopted child, up to their 18th birthday. Where both parents work for UCL, each can apply for up to 18 weeks of OPL under this Policy.
4.14.2 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. If just part of a week is requested (for example one or two days) it will be considered that a week’s OPL has been used.
4.14.3 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 ML, AL, ShPL or PL. 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.
4.14.4 An employee taking OPL cannot undertake paid employment with any other employer whilst on OPL, during their normal contracted hours. The employment contract with UCL continues throughout the period of OPL. An employee accumulates entitlement to 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. Superannuation contributions will be suspended during periods of OPL. Any unpaid ‘Parental Leave' taken in respect of a child whilst working for an employer prior to employment with UCL, counts towards an individual's overall entitlement to OPL in respect of that child. Where there is disagreement between the employee and the line manager as to the type of parental leave for which they should apply, the manager should contact their HR Business Partner for advice.
4.15 Sabbatical Leave
4.15.1 In addition to the provisions of this policy and to mark its commitment to gender equality in academic careers, research active academic employees returning from ShPL (where any of these individually or combined totals more than 3 months duration) are entitled to take one term of Sabbatical Leave, without teaching commitments, in accordance with the principles set out in the Sabbatical Leave Policy. This leave will enable staff more quickly to re-establish research activity.
5.1 The HR Policy Team will keep the monitoring of parental leave and the operation of this policy under review.