Parental Leave Scheme

  1. Purpose of the Parental Leave Scheme
  2. Entitlement
  3. Eligibility
  4. Conditions
  5. Application Process

Form: Parental Leave Application Form (Office document, 45kB)


1. Purpose of the Parental Leave Scheme

The purpose of this scheme is to enable staff to spend more time with their children while at the same time keeping their employment open.  This is in line with their statutory right to Parental Leave.

The University wishes to promote the Parental Leave scheme as part of the wider PositiveWorking@Bristol agenda, in the knowledge that such leave can benefit individual staff, teams and the organisation as a whole.

These provisions are in addition to the separate policies covering maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity leave and shared parental leave, as well as the University’s career break scheme.

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2. Entitlement

Parental Leave is unpaid. Where the employee meets the eligibility criteria below, they are entitled to take a maximum total of 18 weeks' unpaid leave for each child up to the child’s 18th birthday.

Parental Leave applies to each child, not an individual's job, so any leave taken with previous employers counts towards the total 18 weeks.

In the case of employees who work part-time, the leave will be in proportion to the time worked.

Parental Leave can only be taken in blocks of one week upwards, to a maximum total of four weeks in any given calendar year (per child). Part of a week will count as one week for the purposes of calculating the remaining entitlement.  The restriction to a minimum of one week does not apply to parents of disabled children, who may take their leave in multiples of one day.

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3. Eligibility

Employees will have the right to Parental Leave if they have one year’s continuous employment and:

a) are the parent (named on the birth certificate) of a child who is under 18 years of age; or

b) have adopted a child who is under 18 years of age; or

c) have acquired formal parental responsibility for a child who is under 18 years of age.

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4. Conditions

During Parental Leave the University, via the appropriate manager, will:

a) ensure that the employee returns to their job, or a job which has the same or better status, terms and conditions;

b) ensure that seniority and pension membership are maintained; and

c) treat the employee as if they were working normally in respect of redundancy procedures.

The following general conditions apply:

a) During the Parental Leave period the employee will remain employed but will not be paid and will not be bound by any contractual terms except terms relating to good faith and confidentiality.

b) Superannuation payments will not be payable during periods of Parental Leave that are one week or more in duration.  However, if the employee wishes to maintain their own employee pension contributions during this period, the University will meet the appropriate employer’s contributions. In these circumstances, appropriate arrangements for the payment of contributions will need to be made with the Pensions team before the period of Parental Leave commences.  Please contact the Pensions and Payroll Office for details regarding the implications for Pension Salary Exchange where appropriate.   

c) There will be no entitlement to annual leave or sick pay during the period of the Parental Leave

d) Where an employee becomes pregnant during Parental Leave, the normal accrued maternity leave entitlements will apply. 

e) A period of time on Parental Leave shall not be regarded as a break in service.

f)  Incremental progression will not be affected by Parental Leave.

g) The duration of Parental Leave will be clearly specified and agreed before commencement of the break, and an employee will not be entitled to return to work before the expected end of the Parental Leave, unless agreed by the appropriate manager.

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5. Application process

The employee must give the University at least 21 days’ notice of taking leave using the Parental Leave application form (Office document, 45kB).

Where all the eligibility criteria are met, applications for Parental Leave cannot be refused providing the maximum of 4 weeks’ Parental Leave in any given calendar year and 18 weeks total allowance per child is not exceeded. However, outside of the exceptional circumstances detailed below, the University may postpone leave where the needs of the University make this necessary.  Leave can be postponed to an agreed date, or to a suitable future range of possible dates, but will not be postponed for more than six months.   Where it is considered that leave needs to be postponed, the employee will be given,, within 7 days of the original request, a written explanation of the reasons for the refusal and a suggested alternative start date for the period of Parental Leave.

Exceptional circumstances in which Parental Leave will not be postponed include instances where the leave is to be taken immediately following the birth/adoption of a child, or if such postponement would mean the employee would no longer qualify for Parental Leave(for example, postponing it until after the child’s 18th birthday).

The University may ask for reasonable evidence to support a request for Parental Leave, for example, proof of the child’s age and proof of employee’s responsibilities towards that child.

If abuse of the Parental Leave Scheme is suspected, it may be dealt with under the University's Conduct Procedure.

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