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Parental leave policy

Policy purpose and scope

Parental leave legislation gives parents the right to unpaid time off work to care for a child up to the age of 18 years.

This policy sets out the parental leave entitlements and the procedure to request parental leave.

Parental leave should not be confused with shared parental leave (SPL).This allows eligible new parents to share up to 50 weeks’ leave during the child’s first year in their family if they reduce their maternity/adoption leave entitlement to take it as SPL instead. If you decide to take SPL you will need to follow the Shared Parental Leave Policy.

This policy applies to all employees and is non-contractual.

1. Eligibility

To qualify for unpaid parental leave you must have completed at least one year's continuous service with The Pensions Regulator and must be the mother/father of the child (natural or adoptive), or have (or expect to have) responsibility for the child; and take the leave to spend time with/care for the child. The qualifying child/adopted child must be under the age of 18 when leave is taken.

You have responsibility for a child if you are the biological or adoptive parent or you have legal parental responsibility in some other way, for example under a court order.

All parental leave is unpaid. The appropriate deduction will be made from your salary during the month in which you have taken parental leave or as soon as possible after the leave has been taken if the leave was arranged at short notice.

Your employment contract will remain in force and holiday entitlement will continue to accrue. You will remain bound by your duties of good faith and confidentiality and any contractual restrictions on accepting gifts and benefits, or working for another business. Your continuity of employment will not be affected.

2. Entitlement

If you meet the qualifying criteria you will be entitled to up to 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave for each qualifying child up to their 18th birthday.

Where both parents are employed by us each parent is entitled to 18 weeks’ unpaid leave for each child.

Parental leave may be taken in blocks of weeks or a whole number of weeks at any time up to a maximum of four weeks in any 12 month period for each eligible child.

For these purposes, the 12 month period commences from the date that you become entitled to parental leave in respect of the child in question.

A week is based on your work pattern. Therefore for example, if you only work on Monday and Tuesday, your ‘week’ will be two days.

Special rules apply where your child is disabled, which for these purposes means entitled to a disability living allowance, armed forces independence allowance or personal independence payment. You can take parental leave in respect of that child in blocks of less than one week. However, there is still a limit of four weeks a year for each child and 18 weeks in total for each child.

The parental leave entitlement as outlined above may be taken

  • in addition to the existing maternity leave
  • in addition to the existing paternity / partner's leave
  • in addition to shared parental leave

3. Notification requirements

Parental leave should be applied for in writing using the parental leave application form at least 21 days before it is intended to be taken, although that notice period may be waived in exceptional circumstances. However, in order that appropriate arrangements within your team can be made, you should provide as much notice as possible of your wish to take leave. You should include the start and the end dates on which you wish to take the leave.

Please also provide appropriate documentation to confirm that you are the parent or the person legally responsible for a child. This evidence can include:

  • your responsibility or expected responsibility for the child such as birth certificate, adoption or matching certificate, parental responsibility agreement or court order; or
  • the child's date of birth or date of adoption placement

Managers may defer the taking of parental leave, due to urgent business needs, for up to six months except when the leave requested relates to paternal leave at or immediately following the birth of your child or immediately following the placement of an adopted child.

A meeting will be arranged with you in order to discuss alternative dates if appropriate, and we will notify you in writing of the reason for postponement and the new start and end dates, within seven days of receiving your request for parental leave.

We cannot postpone parental leave for more than six months, or beyond the child's 18th birthday (if sooner).

You must enter your parental leave onto the flexitime system for HR to approve.

You must tell us of any parental leave you have taken while working for another employer as this counts towards your 18-week entitlement.

4. Returning to work

You must notify us of your intention to return to work and of the date on which you intend to return. If you take a parental leave period of up to four weeks you will be able to return to the same job. If your parental leave period is more than four weeks (because you have added it onto another type of parental leave eg maternity / paternity / adoption) there is no entitlement to return to the same job. Every effort will be made for you to do so, however, if it is not reasonably practicable for you to return to the same job, you will have the right to return to any job which is suitable and appropriate for you to do in the circumstances, at no less favourable terms.

5. Abuse of the parental leave policy

The purpose of parental leave is to care for a child, which includes making arrangements for their welfare.

If you dishonestly claim parental leave or fraudulently claim to be eligible to take Parental Leave you may be disciplined in line with our relevant policy and procedure, which could include your employment being terminated.

6. Grievance

If you believe you have been treated unfairly for reasons related to taking parental leave you should first try to resolve your concerns through discussion with your manager. If you are unsuccessful you can follow our grievance procedure.