Family leave schemes

Part B - Family leave schemes

1. Maternity leave scheme

The University maternity leave scheme has two elements of entitlement, leave and pay. The leave entitlement of the scheme is composed of a statutory component only. The pay entitlement is composed of a statutory and an enhanced component. The statutory components to leave and pay are those required to be given by law. The enhanced element of pay is the amount the University has agreed to top-up the statutory pay element with. However, if an employee is not entitled to any statutory pay elements, the University has made provision.

1.1 Maternity leave

1.1.1 Eligibility

Individuals will be eligible for maternity leave if they:

  • Are legally classed as an employee, and
  • Are pregnant
1.1.2 Qualification

Employees will qualify for the maternity leave scheme if they:

  • have given the correct proof that they are pregnant (e.g. MATB1)
  • have given the required notice (at least 15 weeks before the due date)
1.1.3 Entitlement

Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks maternity leave which is split into two consecutive blocks:

  • Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML) - 26 weeks
  • Additional Maternity Leave (AML) - 26 weeks.

This is not prorated for part-time workers and it does not require a minimum length of service.

It is up to the individual employee to decide how much of this entitlement they wish to take subject to satisfying the minimum requirement outlined below.

1.1.4 Commencement

Employees can start their maternity leave any day from 11 weeks before their due date. Their maternity leave will start earlier than the date they pick if:

  • their baby comes early, or
  • they're off work with an illness related to their pregnancy, and this happens in the 4 weeks before the week of their due date
1.1.5 Compulsory maternity leave

Employees who have given birth are required by law to take a minimum of two weeks' maternity leave immediately after the birth of the child. This is known as compulsory maternity leave.

1.2 Maternity pay

There are two types of maternity pay, statutory pay and occupational pay. As long as the individual meets the qualifying criteria, the payment they receive will be a combination of both types of pay.

1.2.1 Statutory maternity pay (SMP)

Statutory maternity pay is a state benefit.

Qualification

To qualify for SMP an employee must:

  • have average earnings above the "lower earnings limit" for national insurance purposes for the 'Qualifying Period' (usually the 8 week period before the Qualifying Week)
  • give the correct notice (at least 15 weeks before the due date) and proof they are pregnant (e.g. MATB1)
  • have a minimum of 26 weeks continuous service prior to the end of the qualifying week i.e. 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth
  • have stopped working and commenced maternity leave

Note that where the employee does not meet the continuous employment qualification for SMP or MA (see below) but does qualify for maternity leave and meets the other qualifying criteria, the University has committed to pay an equivalent amount, for an equivalent period of time, to the employee once the occupational entitlement has been exhausted.

Entitlement

Up to 39 weeks in total at the current rate of SMP

Payment

SMP will be paid via an employer's payroll.

If the employee has 26 weeks continuous service with the University at the qualifying week, it is paid by the University.

If the individual is a recent new starter and was employed by another employer at the qualifying week they may qualify for SMP via their previous employer. The individual will need to claim their SMP from them.

1.2.2 Maternity allowance (MA)

Individuals who do not meet the SMP qualifying criteria but who do meet a lower threshold of criteria, may be eligible for MA. MA is paid at either a higher or lower statutory rate, and for either 39 or 14 weeks, depending on the individual's circumstances and previous earnings.

Payment

The individual claims it directly from Jobcentre Plus.

1.2.3 Occupational maternity pay (OMP)
Qualification

To qualify for occupational maternity pay, an individual must:

  • be a pregnant employee who has a current contract of employment with the University of York
  • have started employment with the University before their child is born
  • given the correct notice
  • not have already commenced maternity leave.
  • intend to return to work for the University after their period of occupational maternity leave for a minimum of three months.
Entitlement

Statutory payments to which the employee is eligible are 'topped up' by the University so that they continue to receive pay at a rate equivalent to their normal full pay for the entitlement period. Therefore, those who qualify for the University's OMP will have the difference between their normal full pay and the relevant SMP or MA amount for:

  • Up to 18 weeks from the commencement of the maternity leave period.

Employees who have benefited from OMP must return for a minimum of three months after taking maternity leave. Should they resign and leave before the minimum period they will be required to pay back the OMP they have received.

An employee on a career break will not be eligible for OMP. As SMP is based on the employee's AWE in the eight weeks preceding maternity leave, entitlement to SMP may also be affected.

Payment

Occupational Maternity Pay will be paid via the University's payroll.

2. Adoption leave scheme

The University adoption leave scheme has two elements of entitlement, leave and pay. The leave entitlement of the scheme is composed of a statutory component only. The pay entitlement is composed of a statutory and an enhanced component. The statutory components to leave and pay are those required to be given by law. The enhanced element of pay is the amount the University has agreed to top-up the statutory pay element with. However, if an employee is not entitled to any statutory pay elements, the University has made provision.

2.1 Adoption leave

The right to adoption leave is only available to one member of the adopting or (in the case of surrogacy) 'parental order' parent couple. It is up to the adoptive / 'parental order' parents to elect which of them takes the adoption leave. The parent elected to take the leave is known as the designated primary parent. The designated primary parent will decide how much of their entitlement they wish to take.

2.1.1 Eligibility

Individuals will be eligible for adoption leave if they:

  • Are legally classed as an employee
  • Have been matched with a child for adoption
  • Have notified the adoption agency that they agree that the child will be placed with them and have agreed a date for this placement.
Dual approved prospective adopters (fostering for adoption)

Dual approved prospective adopters who have a child placed with them under the Children Act 1989 with a view to them adopting that child (this is sometimes referred to as fostering for adoption) may also be eligible for adoption leave.

Surrogacy

Surrogacy is when someone else carries and gives birth to a baby for the intended parents. If an individual uses a surrogate, the surrogate will be the child's legal parent at birth.

Individual's must apply to become the legal parent within 6 months of the child's birth to get adoption leave and pay.

They must apply for:

  • a parental order - if one intended parent is genetically related to the child (these parents are referred to as "Parental Order parents" in this policy).
  • an adoption order - if the intended parents are not genetically related to the child
2.1.2 Qualification

Employees will qualify for the adoption leave scheme if they have:

  • Given the correct notice to the University
  • Complied with the evidence requirements, where they apply
2.1.3 Entitlement

Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks adoption leave which is split into two consecutive blocks:

  • Ordinary Adoption Leave (OAL) - 26 weeks
  • Additional Adoption Leave (AAL) - 26 weeks

This is not prorated for part-time workers and it does not require a minimum length of service.

2.1.4 Commencement

The adoption leave period may begin from the date of the child's placement for adoption (whether this is earlier or later than expected) or from a predetermined date which can be up to 14 days before the expected date of placement.

Adoption leave must be taken in one continuous block and cannot be broken by any other leave.

2.1.5 Compulsory adoption leave

It is required by law that a minimum of two weeks' leave must be taken by the designated primary parent immediately following the placement of the child. This is known as compulsory adoption leave.

2.2 Adoption pay

There are two types of adoption pay, statutory pay and occupational pay. As long as the individual meets the qualifying criteria, the payment they receive will be a combination of both types of pay.

2.2.1 Statutory adoption pay (SAP)

Full details of statutory adoption pay is available from the Gov.uk website.

Statutory Adoption Pay is a state benefit paid via an employer's payroll.

Qualification

To qualify for SAP an employee must:

  • have been continuously employed by the University for at least 26 weeks by the week they were matched with a child or in the case of surrogacy by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth
  • have average weekly earnings (AWE) not less than the lower earnings limit for NI contributions in the 8 weeks leading up to the date they were notified of a match with a child or, in the case of surrogacy, before the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth
  • give the correct notice which in the case of adoption is within 7 days of being matched with a child or, in the case of surrogacy, is by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due (the intended parent of a surrogacy arrangement should tell the University the expected week of childbirth and that they are eligible and intend to apply for a Parental Order).
  • give proof of the adoption or surrogacy e.g. matching certificate for adoptions or parental order (before the parental order is issued employees may be asked for a signed statutory declaration that they intend to apply for a parental order within the six month time limit).
  • have stopped working and commenced adoption leave.
  • has elected to receive SAP i.e. be the designated primary adopter / designated primary parental order parent

Note that where the employee does not meet the continuous employment qualification for SAP but does qualify for adoption leave and meets the other qualifying criteria, the University has committed to pay an equivalent amount, for an equivalent period of time, to the employee once the occupational entitlement has been exhausted.

Entitlement

Up to 39 weeks in total at the current rate of SAP

Payment

SAP will be paid via an employer's payroll.

If the employee has 26 weeks continuous service with the University at the expected week of placement, it is paid by the University.

If the individual is a recent new starter and was employed by another employer at the qualifying week (the date they were notified of a match with a child), they may qualify for SAP via their previous employer. The individual will need to claim their SAP from them.

2.2.2 Occupational adoption pay (OAP)
Qualification

To qualify for OAP the designated primary adopter must:

  • be an employee who has a current contract of employment with the University of York
  • have started employment with the University before the date the child placed with them
  • have given the required notice
  • not already commenced adoption leave
  • intend to return to work for the University after their period of OML for a minimum of 3 months.
Entitlement

Statutory payments to which the employee is eligible are 'topped up' by the University so that they continue to receive pay at a rate equivalent to their normal full pay for the entitlement period. Therefore, those who qualify for the University's OAP will have the difference between their normal full pay and SAP amount for:

  • Up to the first 18 weeks of the commencement of their adoption leave period.

Employees who have benefited from OAP must return for a minimum of 3 months after taking adoption leave. Should they resign and leave before the minimum period they will be required to pay back the OAP they have received.

An employee on a career break will not be eligible for OAP. As SAP is based on the employee's AWE in the eight weeks leading up to the date they were notified of a match with a child, entitlement to SAP may also be affected.

Payment

Occupational Adoption Pay will be paid via the University's payroll.

3. Paternity / partner leave scheme

The University paternity / partner leave scheme has two elements of entitlement, leave and pay. The leave entitlement of the scheme is composed of a statutory component only. The pay entitlement is composed of a statutory and an occupational component. The statutory components to leave and pay are those required to be given by law. The occupational element of pay is the amount the University has agreed to top-up the statutory pay element with.

Parents intending to have a child through a surrogacy arrangement may be eligible for Statutory Paternity Pay and Leave. Employees must give the University a written statement to confirm that they've applied or intend to apply for a parental order in the 6 months after the baby's birth.

3.1 Paternity / partner leave

3.1.1 Eligibility

An employee is likely to be eligible for paternity / partner leave if they are taking time off to look after the child and they one of the following:

  • the non-birth parent / father
  • the spouse or partner of the birth parent / mother
  • the spouse / civil partner or partner of the designated primary parent in the case of adoption
  • one of the intended 'parental order' parents (not the designated primary parental order parent) if you're having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement.
3.1.2 Qualification

To qualify for paternity / partner leave employees must satisfy all of the following criteria:

  • have or expect to have responsibility for the child's upbringing
  • be making the request for time off to look after the child
  • have started employment with the University before their child is born (or placed with them for adoption)
  • have not already commenced family support leave (maternity, adoption, paternity / partner or shared parental)
  • given the correct notice to the University
3.1.3 Entitlement

Employees may choose to take:

  • either 1 or 2 consecutive weeks' paternity / partner leave to be taken within eight weeks of the child's birth / placement

This leave can start on any day of the week but cannot be taken as odd days. The amount of time is the same even if there is more than one child (for example, multiple births or more than one child is placed for adoption as part of the same arrangement).

3.1.4 Commencement

Leave cannot start before the birth. The start date must be one of the following:

  • the actual date of birth / placement
  • an agreed number of days after the birth / placement
  • an agreed number of days after the expected week of childbirth / expected week of placement

3.2 Paternity pay

3.2.1 Statutory paternity pay (SPP)

Full details of statutory paternity pay is available from the Gov.uk website. Statutory Paternity Pay is a state benefit paid via an employer's payroll.

Qualification

In addition meeting the eligibility and qualifying criteria for statutory paternity leave, in order to qualify for SPP the employee must:

  • be employed by the University up to the date the child is born (or placed with the adopter)
  • be on the University's payroll
  • earn a salary equivalent to or greater than the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) (an amount set by the government).
  • have been continuously employed by the University for at least 26 weeks up to any day in the 'qualifying week'
  • have stopped working and commenced paternity leave
Entitlement

Employees can choose to take either 1 week or 2 consecutive weeks' statutory paternity leave and pay at the current rate of SPP.

Payment

SPP will be paid via the University's payroll.

3.2.2 Occupational paternity / partner pay
Qualification

To be qualify for occupational paternity / partner pay (OPP) the partner must:

  • be an employee who has a current contract of employment with the University of York
  • have started employment with the University before the date the child is born / placed with them, and
  • not already commenced paternity leave
Entitlement

Statutory payments to which the employee is eligible are 'topped up' by the University so that they continue to receive pay at a rate equivalent to their normal full pay for the entitlement period. Therefore, those who qualify for the University's OPP will have the difference between their normal full pay and SPP amount.

Note that where the employee does not meet the continuous employment qualification for SPP but does qualify for paternity leave and meets the other qualifying criteria, the University has committed to pay an equivalent amount, for an equivalent period of time, to the employee once the occupational entitlement has been exhausted.

An employee on a career break will not be eligible for OPP.

Payment

Occupational paternity / partner pay will be paid via the University's payroll.

4. Shared parental leave scheme

Shared parental leave (ShPL) allows the birth parent / the designated primary parent (adoption) / intended primary parent (surrogacy) to bring their maternity / adoption leave and pay to an end early and for both parents to take the remaining entitlement during their child's first year in a more flexible way.

It's up to the parents to decide how they use the leave. ShPL gives each parent the right to take chunks of leave which are broken up with periods of work. They can also choose whether they want to take the time off together or opt for staggered leave.

Employees can claim shared parental pay for any remaining weeks after the birth parent or primary adopter stops their:

  • Maternity pay
  • Adoption pay
  • Maternity Allowance

For example, if a mother / birth parent stops their maternity pay after 30 weeks, they or their partner could get shared parental pay for the remaining 9 weeks.

To do this, the employee or worker must tell their employer in writing.

4.1 Shared parental leave (ShPL)

Note that maternity / adoption leave cannot be taken at the same time as ShPL i.e. one parent cannot be on maternity / adoption leave at the same time as their partner is on ShPL. Maternity / Adoption leave must be curtailed before ShPL can commence.

4.1.1 Eligibility

To be eligible to take shared parental leave an employee must share responsibility the care of the child at the time of the birth / placement for adoption with either:

  • their spouse, civil partner or joint adopter
  • the child's other parent
  • their partner (they must live with them)
4.1.2 Qualification

Additionally an employee seeking to take Shared Parental Leave must satisfy all of the following criteria:

  • where the employee is the mother / adopter / surrogacy intended parent (with parental order) of the child they must be entitled to statutory maternity/adoption leave;
  • where the employee is the father or partner of the mother/ designated primary adopter, the mother/adopter must be entitled to statutory maternity pay ('SMP') or statutory adoption pay ('SAP'), statutory maternity or adoption leave, or maternity allowance ('MA');
  • the employee must still be employed by the University in the week before the leave is to be taken;
  • the employee must have a minimum of 26 weeks' continuous employment at the end of the Qualifying Week;
  • the other parent must meet the 'employment and earnings test' requiring them in the 66 weeks leading up to the EWC (or in the case of adoption the Qualifying Week), to have worked for at least 26 weeks and earned an average of at least £30 per week (this rate may change annually) for 13 of those weeks;
  • both parents must give the necessary statutory notices and declarations, including notice to end any maternity or adoption leave, SMP or SAP, or MA periods.
4.1.3 Entitlement
  • Up to 50 weeks of leave

The amount of ShPL to which an individual is entitled will depend on when the birth parent / designated primary adoptive parent brings their Maternity / Adoption Leave Period to an end and the amount of leave that the other parent takes in respect of the child.

4.1.4 Limit on number of requests for leave

The employee can provide a combined total of up to 3 Period of Leave Notices or Variations of Period of Leave Notices per pregnancy / adoption, although the University may waive this limit in some circumstances.

4.1.4 Commencement

Individuals can only start Shared Parental Leave (SPL) or Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) once the child has been born or placed with their family for adoption and the maternity / adoption leave has been curtailed.

4.2 Shared parental pay (ShPP)

4.2.1 Statutory shared parental pay (SShPP)
Qualification

In addition to satisfying the qualification criteria for shared parental leave, in order to qualify for SShPP, individuals must meet the following additional criteria.

  • pass the continuity of employment test
  • earn at least the current lower earnings limit for national insurance per week, for 8 weeks before the 15th week of the expected birth or adoption match date
  • The other parent must meet the employment and earnings test.
Entitlement

Eligible employees may be entitled to take:

  • up to 39 weeks SShPP while taking Shared Parental Leave (less any weeks of Maternity / Adoption pay claimed by the employee or their partner).

Where the mother / birth parent / designated primary adopter is entitled to SMP / SAP and curtails their maternity / adoption leave before the end of the 6th week after SML / SAL has commenced, the SShPP rate only will apply i.e. there is no entitlement to the higher rate of 90% of the mother's / birth parent's / designated primary adopter's statutory pay.

Because the first 2 weeks maternity / adoption leave is compulsory (4 weeks if the mother / birth parent / designated primary parent works in a factory) only 37 weeks of ShSPP (35 weeks if the mother / birth parent / designated primary parent works in a factory) can be split or shared.

Employees can work out how much shared parental pay they're entitled to by using the shared parental leave and pay planning tool on GOV.UK.

4.2.2 Occupational shared parental pay (OShPP)
Qualification
  • Both parents must qualify for SShPL and SShPP
  • be an employee who has a current contract of employment with the University of York
  • have started employment with the University before the date the child's birth or placement with them, and
  • intend to return to work for the University after their period of OShPL for a minimum of 3 months.
Entitlement

Statutory payments to which the employee is eligible are 'topped up' by the University so that they continue to receive pay at a rate equivalent to their normal full pay for the entitlement period. Therefore, those who qualify for the University's OShPP will have the difference between their normal full pay and SShPP amount for:

  • Up to the first *18 weeks of the commencement of their partner's or their maternity or adoption leave period.

*less any weeks of Maternity / Adoption / Shared Parental leave taken by the employee or their partner.

Payment

OShPP will be paid via the University's payroll.

5. Parental leave scheme (unpaid)

Parental Leave should not be confused with 'Shared Parental Leave' as the provisions are different. Parents may apply for unpaid leave to care for a child under the age of 18.

The right to parental leave applies whether the employee is a natural or adoptive parent. Parents do not have to be living with a child in order to qualify for parental leave.

Parental leave is an individual right and cannot be transferred between parents.

Applications for parental leave (unpaid) should be made using the Parental Leave (unpaid) Application Form

5.1 Qualification

An employee qualifies for parental leave if all the following apply:

  • they have one year's continuous service with the University at the date from when they wish to take the first period of leave
  • they are the parent or one of the parents (named on the birth/adoption certificate) of a child who is under 18 years old or they have acquired formal parental responsibility for a child who is under 18 years old.
  • they have given the correct notice to the University (notice should normally be given to the Head of Department at least 21 days' prior to the intended start date).

In some cases legal responsibility for looking after a child will have been given to someone other than a natural or adoptive parent, such as a guardian. If an individual has acquired parental responsibility for the child, they will be entitled to parental leave if the qualifying conditions are met.

Depending on the circumstances of an individual case, the University may give sympathetic consideration to applications for parental leave from employees with informal responsibility for looking after a child.

Employees can take parental leave immediately after a period of maternity/adoption leave, provided that any notice requirements are met, and provided that other conditions, such as the qualifying period, are met.

5.2 Entitlement

Eligible employees have the right to take a total of 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave for each child. Normally, parental leave is taken in blocks or multiples of one week (with the exception that parents of disabled children can take leave in multiples of one day). Normally, up to a maximum of 4 weeks' parental leave per qualifying child can be taken in a year, by agreement with the Head of Department (HoD).

If parental leave is taken immediately after the child is born, or is placed with the family for adoption, or where it is taken immediately following the employee's maternity leave, it may be taken in a block of up to 18 weeks, by agreement with the HoD, subject to the required notice being given by the employee.

Applications for additional parental leave (i.e. beyond 18 weeks) may be considered (depending on the circumstances of an individual case).

5.3 Postponement

It may be necessary for parental leave to be postponed if the HoD considers the employee's absence will disrupt, unduly, the operation of that department. Normally such a postponement will not be for more than 3 months. Notice of postponement and the reasons for it must be given within 7 days of the employee giving notice that he/she wishes to take parental leave.

Postponement of parental leave under this paragraph will not affect the maximum of other parental leave which may be taken in any year to which it is postponed. If parental leave duly applied for before a child's fifth birthday - or a disabled child's 18th birthday - is postponed, under this paragraph, until after the relevant birthday, it may still be taken.

Parental leave cannot be postponed when the employee gives notice to take it immediately after the child is born or is placed with the family for adoption.

5.4 Contract of employment

The employment contract continues during an absence on parental leave, unless it is terminated by the employer or employee. This means that an employee continues to benefit from their employment rights during parental leave, including holiday accrual.

5.5 Records

Employers are not required to keep statutory records of parental leave taken, although many will want to do so for their own purposes. When an employee changes jobs, employers will be free to make enquiries of a previous employer or seek a declaration from the employee about how much parental leave has been taken.


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  • Approved on: 1 August 2023