Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, Parental, Caring and Compassionate Leave Policy

1. Aims

Oblong’s maternity/paternity/adoption policy will clearly set out:

  • What rights employees have in relation to maternity, paternity and adoption leave
  • Employees' rights to parental leave and compassionate leave to care for dependants
  • How they can exercise those rights

 

2. Who is it for?

The policy is for all full and part-time staff, regardless of their length of service. The policy will also be brought to the attention of those who will have to implement it to ensure the policy is understood throughout Oblong.

NB: Oblong will adhere to current statutory rights.  Should these rights change, the current statutory rights will supersede the terms in this policy at the time of application.

 

3. Maternity Leave

Length of leave: All employees, regardless of their length of service, are entitled to 39     weeks’ Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML), and Additional Maternity Leave (AML), which starts immediately after OML and continues for a further 13 weeks.  (See below for information on when this leave is paid.)

Notification requirements: Maternity leave cannot start more than 11 weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC).  The employee must notify the employer of the intention to commence maternity leave by the end of the 15th week before the EWC.

Maternity pay: An employee who has been employed by Oblong continuously for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the EWC and earns above the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) is entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).
This will be at the rate of 90 per cent of normal salary for the first six weeks, and at the statutory rate of SMP for the following 33 weeks.  (See www.hmrc.gov.uk for current LEL and SMP figures - as of April 2014 the LEL is £111 per week, and SMP is £136.78 per week, or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.)  Further leave will be unpaid.  
Employees without the minimum length of service are entitled to unpaid OML and AML, as Oblong cannot recover SMP for these employees.

Contractual benefits for length of service:

less than 1 year’s service and/or not confirmed in post (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): statutory provision (as above - ‘Maternity Pay’).

confirmed in post and with between 1 and 2 years’ service (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): 6 weeks’ full pay for the first 6 weeks of maternity leave, thereafter statutory provision.

confirmed in post and with between 2 and 4 years’ service (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): 8 weeks’ full pay for the first 8 weeks of maternity leave; thereafter statutory provision.

confirmed in post and with 4 years’ service or more (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): 10 weeks’ full pay for the first 10 weeks of maternity leave; thereafter statutory provision.

Holiday entitlement: Statutory holiday will accrue throughout both OML and AML. Additional contractual holiday entitlement on top of the statutory minimum will accrue throughout OML and AML.

Maternity leave trigger: Maternity Leave will be triggered if the employee is absent from work for a reason connected with the pregnancy after the start of the fourth week before the EWC.

Return to work: Oblong will notify the employee of the date of return, assuming they take the full entitled 52 weeks. If the employee wishes to return before that date, 28 days’ notice is required.  It is unlawful for a woman to return to work within 2 weeks of giving birth.

Antenatal Appointments: The employee may take reasonable paid time off work for antenatal maternity care before OML commences.

Transfer of maternity leave:  See Additional Paternity Leave.  

 

4. Paternity Leave

Length of leave: Up to 6 weeks’ paternity leave, depending on length of service (see below) is available for the father-to-be, or partner of the mother-to-be, or partner of an adoptive parent who will be taking Maternity / Adoption Leave to care for a baby or adopted child.
Paternity leave must be taken in blocks of one week, consecutively.

Notification & signed declaration:  The employee must notify Oblong of the intention to take Paternity Leave before the 15th week before EWC and at least 28 days before s/he intends to take the leave.  

The notification should include:

the EWC

how many weeks’ leave will be taken; and

the leave start date (see ‘Start of leave’ below).  

Employees must provide a signed declaration stating that the employee:

is taking time off to care for the child or to support the mother/adoptive parent or both

has or expects to have responsibility for the upbringing of the child; and

is the father of the child and / or the partner of the mother or adoptive parent.

Paternity Pay:  An employee who has been employed by Oblong continuously for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the EWC and earns above the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) is entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP).  
Paternity leave is paid at the current fixed rate for Statutory Paternity Pay (as for SMP - see ‘Maternity Pay’ above) or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.  

Employees without the minimum length of service are entitled to leave as above but without pay, as Oblong cannot recover SPP for these employees.

Contractual benefit for length of service:

less than 1 year’s service and/or not confirmed in post (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): statutory provision (as above - ‘Paternity Pay’).

confirmed in post and with between 1 and 2 years’ service (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): 2 weeks’ paid leave and up to 4 weeks’ unpaid leave

confirmed in post and with between 2 and 4 years’ service (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): 3 weeks’ paid leave and up to 3 weeks’ unpaid leave

confirmed in post and with 4 years’ service or more (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): 4 weeks’ paid leave and up to 2 weeks’ unpaid leave

Start of leave: Employees can start their leave on the day of the baby’s birth or on a later date as notified to Oblong - either a specified number of days after the birth, or a chosen date after the first day of the EWC.  
Paternity leave must be taken within 56 days of the actual birth of the child, or the first day of the EWC, whichever is later.

Antenatal Appointments: An Oblong employee may take reasonable paid time off work to accompany their partner to antenatal appointments before their Paternity Leave commences.

 

5. Additional Paternity Leave

Length of leave:  If an employee’s partner returns to work before the end of his/her Maternity Leave or Adoption Leave, the employees may request 2-26 weeks’ Additional Paternity Leave (APL).  
Leave and or pay can only start 20 weeks after the birth, adoption or child’s arrival in the UK (overseas adoptions). Leave stops on the child’s first birthday or 52 weeks after the child starts living with the adoptive parent.

Notification and certification requirements:

The employee must give Oblong 8 weeks’ written notice of the intention to take Additional Paternity Leave using the appropriate form (SC7, SC8, SC9 or SC10, available here: https://www.gov.uk/employers-additional-paternity-pay-leave).  

The employee’s partner must also sign the same form confirming his/her Maternity or Adoption Leave has ended.  

Additionally, the employee must provide proof of the birth or adoption and the contact details of his/her partner’s employer so that Oblong can verify the end date of the partner’s Maternity Pay.  

Pay: An employee who has been employed by Oblong continuously for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the EWC and earns above the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) is entitled to Additional Paternity Pay (APP).
This will be at the statutory rate of APP.  (See www.hmrc.gov.uk for current LEL and SMP figures - as of April 2014 the LEL is £111 per week, and SMP is £136.78 per week, or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.)  
To receive APP, the employee’s partner must have at least 2 weeks’ left of Maternity or Adoption Pay.  
All Additional Paternity Leave taken after the end of the Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance or Statutory Adoption Pay period is unpaid.
Employees without the minimum length of service are entitled to unpaid APP, as Oblong cannot recover SMP for these employees. 

Contractual benefits for length of service:
Any employee who has already taken Paternity Leave is not eligible for these additional benefits for length of service.  These benefits will apply to an employee who has not taken Paternity Leave, but is taking Additional Paternity Leave.  An employee who has taken Paternity Leave may take Additional Paternity Leave but this will be paid at the qualifying statutory rate.

less than 1 year’s service and/or not confirmed in post (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): statutory provision (as above - ‘Additional Paternity Pay’).

confirmed in post and with between 1 and 2 years’ service (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC) and eligible for APP: 2 weeks’ full pay for the first 2 weeks of Additional Paternity Leave, thereafter statutory provision.

confirmed in post and with between 2 and 4 years’ service (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC) and eligible for APP: 3 weeks’ full pay for the first 3 weeks of Additional Paternity Leave; thereafter statutory provision.

confirmed in post and with 4 years’ service or more (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC) and eligible for APP: 4 weeks’ full pay for the first 4 weeks of Additional Paternity Leave; thereafter statutory provision.

Holiday entitlement: Statutory holiday will accrue throughout APL. Additional contractual holiday entitlement on top of the statutory minimum will accrue throughout APL.

Return to work: Oblong will write to the employee within 28 days of receiving notice of the intention to take leave, confirming what APP the employee will receive and the leave start and end dates.

 

6. Adoption Leave (for primary carer)

Adoption leave:  An employee with 26 weeks continuous service before the end of the week before the adoption match was agreed will qualify for adoption leave.
The statutory entitlement is currently 39 weeks Ordinary Adoption Leave (OAL) paid and 13 weeks Additional Adoption Leave (AAL) unpaid.  
Where a couple adopt a child one can choose to take Adoption Leave and the other can choose to take Paternity Leave.  
Employees without the minimum length of service are entitled to unpaid OAL and AAL, as Oblong cannot recover Statutory Adoption Pay for these employees. 

Notice, pay, contractual benefits, holiday entitlement, return to work, and transfer of leave:  As per Maternity Leave - see above.  
EWC should be understood to mean expected week of placement in the case of adoption.  
Adoption Leave can start up to 14 days before the placement.

Pre-adoption appointments: An employee who is involved in an adoption process can take reasonable paid time off work to attend relevant meetings and training.

 

7. Parental and caring leave

Amount of leave

Employees may take up to 18 weeks’ parental leave total for each child, up to the child’s 5th birthday, or the 5th anniversary of the child’s adoption placement, or the adopted child’s 18th birthday - whichever is sooner.  

  • Parents of disabled children may take parental leave up to their child’s 18th birthday.
  • Employees with primary caring responsibilities for a dependant may take up to 18 weeks’ leave in total.  
  • Parental and caring leave may be taken in blocks of one half day or more.

Notice: Employees wishing to take parental or caring leave must give 21 days’ notice.  Where this is not possible, Oblong will endeavour to grant parental or caring leave at shorter notice where this is possible without compromising the needs of the organisation.

Purpose:  Parental or caring leave must be to care for a child or dependant.  This may include:

  • spending more time with the child or dependant in early years or during hospice care
  • accompanying a child or dependant in hospital 
  • researching educational or care establishments
  • settling a child or dependant into new childcare or care arrangements
  • enabling the family to spend more time together e.g. visiting relatives

Using parental leave for other purposes will be subject to disciplinary procedures.

Qualifying conditions: Employees taking parental leave must have parental responsibility for the child (or expect to, where this is being determined by a Family Court), or be named on the birth certificate, or have legally adopted the child.
Employees taking caring leave must have primary caring responsibility for the dependant.

 

8. Compassionate Leave

In cases of urgent domestic need, for example, the serious illness or death of a near relative or partner, compassionate leave of up to five working days may be granted with salary by the Peer Managers.

An extension may be granted in cases of special need. In circumstances of unforeseen sickness of a child or other dependent relative/partner, or where care arrangements have broken down, short periods of paid absence may be taken by agreement with the Peer Managers.

Peer Managers may refer to this government guidance regarding what constitutes an emergency: https://www.gov.uk/time-off-for-dependants/whats-an-emergency. 

Notification: Staff requiring compassionate leave should notify the Peer Managers at the earliest convenient opportunity.  (Refer also to the Absence Management Policy.)

Dependants: 

  • husband / wife / civil partner / long term partner
  • a child for whom the employee has parental responsibility or for whom they are the named guardian
  • parent
  • a person who lives in the same household as the employee, for example grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings. This does not include tenants, lodgers, boarders or paid employees.
  • in the case of illness or injury, or where care arrangements break down, a dependant may also be someone who depends on the employee for care.

Qualification: There is no minimum service requirement for Compassionate Leave; it is available to all staff members.

 

9. Additional Information

Statutory holiday: An employee can take all their statutory holiday that will accrue during their Maternity / Paternity / Adoption / Additional Paternity Leave including if this straddles two holiday years.

Flexible working: Employees have the right to request flexible working hours when their children are under six years old (or when their disabled children are under 18), or if they have long-term caring responsibilities for another dependent. Oblong is happy to consider a flexible approach to working hours however all requests will be dealt with on a case by case basis to ensure the needs of Oblong are also met.

Pay: SMP (and therefore paternity and adoption pay) may change in April of each year in line with government legislation.

Keeping in touch days: Oblong will agree for you to work up to 10 days to keep in touch with you during your Maternity Leave or Adoption Leave.
These days will be worked only if both parties agree and will not affect SMP.

 

10. Key Legislation

  • Work and Families Act 2006
  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992
  • Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999
  • Employment Act 2002
  • Maternity and Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2002
  • Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2002
  • Flexible Working (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2002
  • Children and Families Bill 2013

 

11. Related Policies

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Amended 14/09/2006 by Chris Lightfoot under advice from PERS​
Amended 07/03/2007 change of Maternity and Adoption employment rights 2007
Amended 15/05/07 by Chris Lightfoot and Mark Southwell
​Amended 04/03/14 by Policy Review Group
Ratified 15/04/14 by Trustees