1. The University aims to adopt a positive approach to supporting members of staff before, during and after maternity leave; the University's Maternity Policy and Procedure provides details of the enhancements offered by the Occupational Maternity Pay Scheme.
  2. The following guidance is provided to assist departments in considering a range of supportive interventions for staff which go beyond the contractual provisions detailed in the maternity policy and procedure.
  3. The guidance has been developed with the particular challenges faced by those in academic roles in mind - whether Teaching and Research, Teaching or Research - though similar principles may apply to staff in the Professional and Support Directorates.
  4. It should be noted that departments may not offer enhanced payments or time off beyond what is provided either by the University's Contractual Occupational Maternity Scheme or any associated statutory provisions.
  5. Managers and individual members of staff are encouraged to maintain open and honest dialogue before, during and after maternity leave in order that the department can provide an appropriate level of support and so that the potential impact of any absence on the individual's career progression may be mitigated.
  6. The University is sympathetic about the need for flexibility that may be helpful to an individual leading up to returning from maternity leave. Departments will need to consider this whilst balancing the needs of other colleagues and delivery of the departmental teaching and research strategies.
  7. Whilst seeking to provide the level of flexibility that may be requested, departments may need to be wary about making firm commitments or providing guarantees in advance about what may be possible in relation to flexible working on an individual's return to work.

2. Before Maternity Leave

Pre-Maternity Leave Meetings

It will be helpful for managers to discuss a range of issues with staff prior to going on maternity leave which may include the following:

  • Timings for the start of maternity leave
  • Departmental and member of staff expectations during leave
  • Arrangements for covering teaching responsibilities if appropriate
  • Supervision of students
  • Other supervisory responsibilities
  • Arrangements for covering research activities (including ongoing research grants and associated commitments) if appropriate
  • Arrangements for covering departmental/admin responsibilities
  • Handover arrangements
  • Keeping in touch during leave
  • Arrangements for email/phone communications
  • Expected arrangements for return to work eg. length of leave, pattern of work on return etc. with the understanding that these may change during maternity leave

3. During Maternity Leave

It will be for managers to agree with individuals the level and nature of contact during maternity leave. A number of issues which it may be helpful to consider are given below.

  • The situation may change after the birth of the baby, so there will need to be an understanding of this and flexibility to adapt to a changing situation
  • Main point of contact
  • Arrangements for handling emails should be made eg. redirected to the maternity cover or to another member of staff
  • Telephone contact, the manager and member of staff may discuss whether telephone contact for urgent queries is welcomed
  • Communication with other members of the department with regard to agreed arrangements to avoid needing to involve the member of staff on leave
  • Arrangements for Keeping in Touch (KIT) days
  • Arrangements for staff to discuss their preferences for changes to their working arrangements on their return to work with the aim of meeting the individual's preferences where possible
  • Consideration of flexibility for academic staff to apply for research leave immediately upon their return from maternity leave to mitigate the impact of the absence and support the continued development of the individual's research profile
  • The level of flexibility with regard to the return to work date

4. Return to Work

  1. It will usually be helpful to have a number of return to work meetings to ensure an effective return for the individual; a minimum of two are recommended.
  2. Individuals may request flexible working arrangements on their return from maternity leave using the University's Flexible Working Policy and Procedure
  3. After returning from maternity leave a member of staff may wish to consider requesting a move to reduced working hours.  This should be discussed with the manager as this would result in a change of contract.
  4. Departments will aim to approve all reasonable requests from full-time staff to move to part-time working after returning from maternity leave to support them in achieving a beneficial work-life balance.  Departments will also aim to fulfil all reasonable requests for a return to an individual's original FTE at an appropriate and agreed time, subject to finance and role availability.

Initial Return to Work Meeting

A number of issues which it may be helpful to consider are given below.

  • Expectations of the Department, the line manager and the individual returning to work
  • Maintaining a good work-life balance
  • If appropriate, discuss an altered workload on the initial return and expected length of time for this to continue including consideration of balance of research/teaching for academic staff

Follow Up Return to Work Meeting

A number of issues which it may be helpful to consider are given below.

  • Career progression
  • Grant funding
  • Teaching responsibilities
  • Publications
  • Supervision of students

Document control

  • Last reviewed: 31 July 2014