How to contact us

HR Division
Lionel Robbins Building (5th Floor)
10 Portugal Street
London WC2A 2HD

Office hours:
Monday: 9.30 - 5.30
Tuesday: 9.30 - 5.30
Wednesday: 9.30 - 5.30
Thursday: 9.30 - 5.30
Friday: 9.30 - 5.30 

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Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 6659
Fax: +44 (0)20 7242 3967

Guidance notes for managing family leave - FAQs

What is the basic statutory entitlement to maternity pay and leave?

All pregnant women are entitled to 52 maternity leave and to be paid for all antental appointents, regardless of their length of service. Subject to their length of service and earnings, they may also be netitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance (MA). The qualification period for SMP is 26 weeks continuous service with the School in the 15th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC). SMP is 6 weeks at 90% of earnings and 33 weeks at the current statutory maternity rate or 90% of weekly earnings if this is lower.

How does the School's Occupational Maternity entitlements differ from SMP?

Employees that have completed 26 weeks continuous service at the beginning of the 15th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC) qualify for 18 weeks of leave on full pay inclusive of SMP, known as occupational maternity pay (OMP).

When do I have to let my employer know my maternity leave dates? 

Pregnant staff are required to notify their line manager and HR of their intended start date by the end of the 15th week before the EWC. If they wish to change the intended start date, they can do so by giving 28 days notice in writing. It will be assumed that the full entitlement to leave will be taken i.e. 52 weeks and eight weeks notice, in writing, should be given if the employee wishes to return before the end of her leave.

Is pregnancy-related sickness treated as maternity or sick leave?

Where a woman is off sick due to her pregnancy in the four weeks preceding her EWC, her maternity leave will start automatically. Prior to this period, it will be treated as sickness absence in the usual way. If the level of sickness absence is causing concern, this should be discussed with HR.

Do I need to carry out a Health and Safety risk assessment?

Pregnancy causes physical and psychological changes in an expectant mother, which may make it difficult to carry out work in the way it was done before the woman became pregnant. When informed that a member of staff is pregnant, managers should review the risk assessments for the work carried out and any concerns raised by the expectant mother. The assessments should be reviewed periodically over the course of the pregnancy, and when the woman returns to work after maternity leave. Managers must also review the suitability of work or working conditions in light of any medical certificates issued. In some cases, the work or shift pattern may need to be modified to enable the expectant mother to continue working. In exceptional circumstances, where it is not possible to avoid a risk and suitable alternative work is not available, suspension on full pay on health and safety grounds must take place. Managers should consult their HR Partners for advice on suspension on full pay. The Health and Safety team have developed tips for some common difficulties pregnant staff could experience, and what can be done about them, and can advise managers and new and expectant mothers if required.

What happens if there is a miscarriage or stillbirth?

If a stillbirth or miscarriage occurs at or after the start of the 16th week before the EWC, the women will be entitled to the same level of maternity pay and leave as if it had been a live birth. In such circumstances, she may wish to seek counselling from the School's counselling service.

Are the entitlements the same if women are on fixed-term contracts?

Yes, providing they meet the qualifying criteria.  However, where a fixed-term contract is not renewed during maternity leave, the entitlement to contractual maternity pay will cease but SMP will continue to be paid. Non-renewal of a fixed-term contract due to pregnancy is discriminatory. Fixed term contracts should be renewed if the work or funding is continuing. Advice on renewal of fixed term contracts should therefore be sought from either the Departmental Advisory Team or your HR Partner in such circumstances.

I've had a request for breast feeding facilities from a member of my team; what should I do?

Pregnant workers may, at times, suffer from fatigue and require rest. Managers should also be aware that new mothers may need to take short breaks throughout the day in order to express breast milk and should treat requests to do so sympathetically. The School provides a private room in Tower 3 for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. This can be accessed via Towers 1/2 Reception. Common rooms and social spaces around the School may also be used for rest breaks.

What do I do if I get a request for Ordinary Paternity Leave (OPL)?

An employee who has worked for the School for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the EWC can apply for up to 10 paid working days Ordinary Paternity Leave (pro-rated for part time employment). Employees must give 28 days notice if they wish to take OPL. Managers/employees should inform their HR Adviser of any OPL requests so that the correct documentation can be sent and returned by the employee before the payroll deadline. For full information, please see the Paternity Leave Policy and Procedure.

What is Shared Parental Leave ?

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) replaced Additional Paternity Leave and allows eligible parents additional flexibility in the way they choose to care for a child’s first year of life.

The mother will continue to be entitled to ordinary and additional maternity / adoption leave but will also be entitled to end their leave and any associated statutory maternity maternity/adoption pay.

SPL enables parents to share the caring responsibilities evenly or have one parent taking the main caring role, depending on their preferences and circumstances. Unlike maternity/adoption leave, eligible employees can stop and start their SPL and return to work between periods of leave with each eligible parent able to submit three notices to book periods of leave. Shared Parental Leave SPL can be used alongside, or instead of, Maternity or Adoption Leave.

The amount of SPL available is calculated using the mother’s entitlement to maternity/adoption leave, which allows them to take up to 52 weeks’ leave. A birth mother must take at least two weeks’ maternity leave following the birth of a child but can otherwise choose to end her maternity leave at any stage. An adopter can end their adoption leave once they have taken it for two weeks. The mother and father (or same sex partner) will then be able to share the remaining 50 weeks between them by taking the leave in turns, in different blocks, or at the same time.

|If you receive a request for SPL, please contact your HR Adviser. The Shared Parental Leave Policy and Procedure can also be found here.

What do I do if I get a request for Adoption leave?

There is now a right to statutory adoption leave and pay, subject to 26 weeks continuous service ending with the week of being matched for adoption and sufficient evidence of matching. This is paid for 39 weeks at the current statutory adoption pay rate or 90% of earnings if lower and unpaid for a further 13 weeks. It is possible to claim back 92% of the total amount. In addition, all employees that have worked continuously for the School for a minimum of 26 weeks ending with the week in which the person adopting was notified of having been matched with a child by an adoption agency qualify (inclusive of SAP) for 18 weeks of leave on full pay, a further 21 weeks paid leave (SAP) and 13 weeks unpaid leave. If you receive a request for Adoption leave please contact HR Adviser.

Do I have to give my employee paid time off to attend antenatal appointments?

Pregnant staff have a statutory entitlement, regardless of the length of service or the number of hours worked, to paid time off during working hours to travel to/from and receive antenatal care on the advice of their doctor, midwife or health visitor. The manager may ask for an appointment card or other evidence of the appointment.

Fathers/partners now have a statutory right to unpaid time off to attend up to 2 antenatal appointments. The School recognises the importance of a father/partner being involved with the pregnancy and baby, and therefore offers reasonable paid time off to attend up to 2 ante-natal appointments. Employees wishing to accompany their partners to two paid antenatal appointments should speak to their manager and provide as much notice as possible to minimise any operational impact. Any further antenatal appointments that fathers/partners wish to attend will be at the managers’ discretion and subject to operational needs. Managers, depending on the operational requirements, could, for example, adopt a flexible working approach whereby a father/partner makes up any time missed.

How do I calculate annual leave during maternity/ adoption/shared parental leave?

Annual leave will accumulate normally during maternity leave and can be taken either proceeding or following maternity/adoption or shared parental leave, subject to management agreement. When a staff member on these types of leave is unable to take annual leave prior to 31 December, managers should be sympathetic to requests to carry it over. Employees should discuss how they wish to take the annual leave that they will accrue whilst on maternity leave with their line manager, ideally before the employee starts the aforementioned leave. As with any annual leave request, the annual leave must be agreed by the line manager. The possible options to discuss with the line manager include taking a block of accrued leave before returning to work or using accrued leave to allow a phased return to work by working shorter working weeks for a fixed period. You can contact your HR Adviser, who can send you  a calculator to help you to determine the exact annual leave. 

How do I cover the additional costs incurred by family leave?

An application for additional MSLs/CBPB  to cover the cost of maternity/adoption/shared parental leave can be made to the APRC|. If an individual’s post is funded by a research grant, managers should initially contact the research body to see if they are willing to cover the cost of the maternity pay. If they are not, applications may also be made to the APRC. The School claims back 92% of SMP, which will be refunded to your department. Please contact for queries relating to the payment of maternity/adoption/shared parental leave pay. 

Who does the work whilst my member of staff is on maternity or shared parental leave?

A post can be covered in various way, depending on the situation. For example, colleagues could cover particular parts of a role via acting-up allowances or secondments; or by recruiting a temporary replacement. For advice, please contact your HR Adviser.

Am I allowed to contact a member of staff who is on maternity/ adoption/shared parental leave?

A manager may make reasonable contact with an individual on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave. Prior to the start of maternity, adoption or shared parental leave, managers should discuss arrangements for staying in touch with an employee. This might include an agreement about the way in which contact will happen, how often, and who will initiate the contact. It might also cover the reasons for making contact and the type of things that could be discussed. Managers should inform individuals about any changes taking place in the workplace and should also notify them about upcoming job vacancies. 

Is a member of staff entitled to come into work during maternity/ adoption/shared parental leave?

Employees on maternity or adoption leave can undertake up to 10 days paid work. These days are known as Keeping in Touch (KIT) days. KIT days may be taken at any stage during the maternity or adoption leave period, except during the first two weeks after the baby is born or placed for adoption. They may be used for any activity that would ordinarily be classed as work under an individual's contract and could be particularly useful to assist the return to work process, to undertake a work-related training activity or to allow an individual to attend an important team meeting. Work during maternity,  adoption and shared parental leave may only take place by agreement between both the employee and their manager. Prior to the start of employee’s leave, managers should discuss arrangements for taking KIT days with the employee and, where possible, KIT day should be agreed in advance. Once the KIT day has been worked please complete the Keeping in Touch Day form and pass this to your HR Adviser.

Employees who take shared parental leave can undertake up to 20 days paid work; these are called SPLiT days. This entitlement is separate to KIT days which are a maternity leave entitlement only. Apart from allowing staff to work more days during shared parental leave (i.e. 20 days instead of 10), SPLiT days mirror the same rules as KIT days listed above.

For example, a female employee may use 10 KIT days whilst on maternity leave, switch into shared parental leave with her partner and then work up to 20 SPLiT days before reutning to work.

Once you have worked on a SPLiT day, please contact your HR Adviser, who will also be happy to answer any questions you may have about KIT or SPLiT days.

Is there anything I should be aware of following the member of staff's return to work?

Managers should be aware that changes will have taken place during the maternity, adoption or shared parental leave and should therefore ensure that he or she feels welcomed and is updated. Please select this link for the returning to work guide produced by Working Families. An employee has the right to return to the same job on the same terms and conditions after paid leave. Any questions or issues in the return to work should be discussed with HR

Do I have to agree a request for flexible working?

The Children and Families Act 2014 removed the requirement that an employee must have parental or caring responsibility in order to make a request to their employer to change their terms and conditions with respect to hours and location of work. All employees have the statutory right to ask to work flexibly after twenty-six weeks’ employment service. The statutory request can be made once in any 12 month period. The ACAS Code of Practice ‘Handing in a reasonable manner requests to work flexibly’ is designed to help employers deal with written requests made by employees’

Please see the School’s flexible working guidance for further information.

My member of staff is caring for a relative; are there any statutory rights at work for carers?

Employees caring for a relative or someone who lives at the employee’s address have the right to request flexible working. Please consult your HR Partner when you receive such a request.

Carers also have the right to take unpaid time off work in an emergency involving a dependant. The right is not for time off that can be pre-planned, such as hospital appointments, or for long-term care arrangements, such as nursing a sick relative but could be used if the normal day care arrangements break down. The School gives up to two days’ paid emergency leave per year which employees can apply for in circumstances not covered by compassionate leave. If the caring responsibility is for a disabled child under 18 the employee can also apply for parental leave. 

How does parental leave differ from the other entitlements?

Subject to certain conditions, an employee can apply for parental leave, which is unpaid, to look after or make arrangements for a child's welfare. A total of 18 weeks unpaid leave can be applied for, per child, until the child reaches 18.

The limit on how much parental leave each parent can take in a year is four weeks for each child (unless the employer agrees otherwise), but the School may be able to offer some flexibility on this depending on operational requirements.

Parental leave should be taken as whole weeks (e.g. 1 week or 2 weeks) rather than individual days, unless your employer agrees otherwise or if your child is disabled. You don’t have to take all the leave at once.

At least  21 days’ notice should be given of the likely dates, though the more notice you can give the easier it will be to plan for the leave. If the manager feels unable to agree to the dates of the leave, theyshould contact your HR Partner. You should ensure that you advise your HR Adviser of any parental leave agreed and keep a note of the leave taken. 

What is emergency leave and how many days emergency leave are employees entitled to?

A member of staff can apply for up to two days' paid emergency leave for crisis incidents affecting a dependant, for example, illness or injury; unexpected breakdown of care arrangements; birth; death; an incident during school hours or on a school trip. The main carer for the dependant (defined as the individual's parent, partner, child or someone who lives as a family member) can apply for emergency leave. Individuals are entitled to up to two paid days a year for circumstances not covered by compassionate leave.

Further links:

Maternity pay and leave guidance
Paternity pay and leave guidance
Adoption pay and leave guidance
Guidance relevant to all types of family leave (including calculating annual leave)
Flexible working
Carer's rights in the workplace
Parental leave
Emergency leave