Staff Benefits: shared parental leave and pay

The University offers employees generous family leave and pay benefits. New mothers and primary adopters can take up to 52 weeks of leave following the birth or placement of their child, with up to the first 26 weeks of this being at their normal full rate of pay. Shared parental leave is a scheme which allows mothers and primary adopters to choose to end their maternity or adoption leave early and share the remaining entitlement to leave and pay with their partner.   

How does Shared Parental Leave work? 

In many ways. The first two weeks after the birth or adoption must be taken by the mother or primary adopter, but after that they can choose if, when and how they want to share their remaining entitlement to leave and pay with their partner.  Leave can be taken in one long block or several shorter blocks. And parents can take the leave at the same time, or one after the other allowing each parent time at home to bond with their new child whilst the other keeps in touch with their workplace.  

Here just three examples to help illustrate this: 

  • Both parents could stay at home together with their new child for up to 25 weeks 

  • The mother/primary adopter could take a period of maternity/adoption leave and then return to work whilst their partner stayed at home on shared parental leave  

  • Or, with agreement of their employer, the parents could take the leave in short blocks so they could take turns to be at home or at work over several months. 

The flexibility of the scheme – allowing both parents to spend time with their family to adapt to the new work/life balance challenges which parenting brings – is making the scheme increasingly popular with University staff.  

How can I find out more? 

Shared Parental leave can be complex, so it’s important to read the full scheme guidance.  You can have a conversation, in confidence, with your HR team at any time if you need help with working out what’s possible.   

Below you can read how two of our colleagues have made use of the scheme:  

Sarah Willcox-Jones, HR Policy and Communications Officer, Central HR (providing maternity cover)

Portrait photo of Sarah Willcox-Jones

‘When we discovered we were expecting our second child, my partner and I were keen to take advantage of the shared parental leave scheme.  

‘We particularly liked the fact that there are numerous options of how the time can be divided up. We opted to take six months each, enabling one of us to be at home for a full year with our new baby – along with her older brother. 

‘It’s proved to be an amazing benefit. It has given both of us valuable time to care for and bond with the new addition to our family. The scheme also enables – what felt to us – a manageable time away from our careers. A lot can change in a workplace in a year. It’s probably also eye-opening for both partners to experience the complexities of juggling the demands of a young family. 

‘There’s lots more to the scheme too – in addition to all the options for dividing the time up, there are also 20 ‘keeping in touch’ days so you can drop back into work to help make the transition back to the workplace smoother. We’ve really appreciated all the flexibility the scheme offers. 

‘Friends of ours have taken a completely different approach, with both parents taking six months off together to take the opportunity to do some travelling overseas – made more exciting with their new addition. It’s great that this benefit enables so many opportunities and possibilities for new families.’ 

Tom Wilkinson, Creative Media Manager in the Public Affairs Directorate (PAD) has just returned to work after nine months of shared parental leave to care for his youngest child 

Photo of Tom Wilkinson

‘With my partner running her own business, it made sense for both of us that I became the primary carer for both of our children. This way around really suits us both.  

‘Luckily for us the University was an early participant in the scheme, so I was able to take time off with our first child soon after it launched. I found the institution to be super supportive.  

‘Having been able to provide the full-time care to both our children in their first months has made a real difference to us. Without this flexible approach to parenting, we’d have had to rely on nursery care for our children very early on – not what either of us would have ideally wanted. Instead, all of us have benefited from me being home. 

‘There’s been a real shift in attitudes since we had our first child. Of course, there have always been men who have provided the bulk of the childcare in families, but this has never really been visible – or even much acknowledged. That’s changing now. 

‘Five years ago, I was one of the only fathers I knew of taking several months away from work to be the primary care provider for their baby. At least among dads locally, thanks to the University’s generous and progressive policies, it’s now become far more usual.  

‘Many new fathers we know have taken up the flexible opportunities enabled by Shared Parental Leave – and finding it to be a happy and rewarding experience for the whole family.’ 

Information about Shared Parental Leave for staff and managers is available from our HR pages 

Details of the University’s other family leave schemes can be found on our HR pages