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Father holding baby

Welcome to our School's parental leave website, which includes information for staff who are about to take maternity, parental, shared parental, childbirth or adoption leave. You will find a number of useful cases studies from staff, including academics and post-docs, as well as PhD students who have all successfully taken maternity and parental leave whilst working in the School.

As you will see, I took shared parental leave after the birth of my second son following a change in UK legislation and it is one of the best life choices I have ever made. I would encourage anyone about to start a family to consider taking this time

We hope that this provides some useful insights about how to manage this important time and your work, and will support you in making arrangements for this family leave. You will also find links to guidelines for staff developed by the School and websites giving more information for students.

Professor Andrew Charlton-Perez, Head of School   

Resources for staff

  • The University's Family leave pages include all the policies and forms for these planned absences, as well as contacts for the School's HR Partners for staff working in the School.
  • School policy on parental leave (PDF download, updated March 2017)
  • Parent and Family Network  The Parent and Family Network is designed to be a source of information-sharing and support for working parents and parents-to-be at the University of Reading.


Resources for students


Examples of parental leave within the School

Dr Jon Robson, Principle Research Scientist, NCAS

My son was born in 2018 and, for various reasons, I was always keen to make use of shared parental leave. So, when my wife returned to work after 9 months, I took 8 weeks of shared parental leave to look after my son and help with the transition. Although I only received the statutory minimum shared parental leave pay, one benefit is the relatively large number of shared parental leave in touch (SPLIT) days, which you can be paid for (or accrue holiday). So, I ended up working 1 day a week, which enabled me to keep in touch with colleagues, project management, and supervision, and was useful for the bank balance too! In the end, we also broke the shared parental leave into two separate blocks (of 5 and 3 weeks), so that I could travel to an overseas meeting. Although being the primary parent was undoubtedly tiring compared to the day job, it was a great experience that I was very grateful for and wouldn’t hesitate to do again.

Dr Natalie Harvey, Senior Research Scientist, Meteorology and Dr Ben Harvey, Senior Research Scientist, NCAS

We have three children, Jacob (8), Maddie (4) and Zac (4 months). They were all born whilst we were both working as researchers in the Department of Meteorology/NCAS. We have taken a more traditional route than some of our colleagues as Natalie took maternity leave (of approximately 10 months) for all three children. Ben took his entitlement of two weeks parental leave each time, supplemented with some annual leave.

On return from her first period of leave, Natalie reduced her hours to 0.8FTE to allow Jacob to attend childcare for 4 rather than 5 days a week. This reduction in hours was supported by her line manager and was made easier due to the number of visible members of senior staff who also work part-time. Fortunately, for all three periods of leave Natalie was able to return to work within the timeline of her current research project so we did not have to deal with her contract coming to an end whilst on leave. Keeping in touch days were really useful, and Natalie used these for attending project meetings, writing proposals, and preparing paper revisions. Over all periods of leave, we have both felt fully supported by both our line managers and the wider Department and School.

Dr Claire Ryder, Associate Professor

"I went on maternity leave in May 2013. I was lucky that, although I was around three months from the end of my contract, I was due to start another one on which I'd been a named researcher on the proposal, so I didn't have to worry too much about contracts ending while on maternity leave, or soon after returning to work.

I originally planned to take nine months leave, but ended up extending this to 10 months closer to the time. I'd managed to get my own main papers for the first project published just before my maternity leave, but lots of the other project papers on which I was a co-author were submitted and reviewed while I was on maternity leave, so I ended up using Keep in Touch (KIT) days to work on these.

I attended two international conferences relatively soon after returning to work, which I'd made a point of submitting abstracts to while on leave. Although it was hard being away from the family at this early stage, the conferences really helped me catch up with research developments I'd missed while being on leave and catch up with international colleagues."

Professor Andrew Charlton-Perez, Head of School

"Our first son was born in 2009 before the changes to the law that allowed shared parental leave. Because my wife and I try to share our parenting equally we both wanted to share leave when our second son was born in 2012.

My wife was on leave for the first nine months and I stayed at home for three and a half months after this. We really valued and enjoyed the experience of shared leave since it gave us both a chance to be at home with our son and also to experience being the sole member of the household going out to work.

The department was generally very supportive of my request for shared leave, despite this being very new at the time, and the planning we put in place helped to make the transitions away from and back to work much easier.

The experience certainly gave me a lot of insight into some of the working problems that anyone taking extended leave for whatever reason can come across, but it also gave me confidence that these problems can be worked around when the desire to support similar arrangements is available. I would strongly encourage other members of staff to consider shared parental leave."