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The Parent and Family network is a useful network of colleagues in the university that aims to share information and provide support to any colleagues who are parents or have any other form of caring responsibility for children or young people.

Staff options for Parental Leave

The University’s parental leave policies support staff with family responsibilities in a number of ways, with options for maternity, adoption, childbirth/adoption support and (unpaid) parental leave, as well as the opportunity to take shared parental leave in place of maternity/adoption/childbirth leave.

Information and relevant forms can be obtained from the HR website for family leave.

Supporting staff returning from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave

The University supports staff returning from Maternity, Adoption, or Shared Parental Leave through:

  1. Ensuring the School is fully reimbursed for the salary costs of staff taking such leave.
  2. Ringfencing 25% of the reimbursement to support academic staff upon their return to work, in order to ensure staff are supported in their transition to returning to work and full productivity. For staff who are not academic staff, up to 25% of the central funding is available. This funding is available for 12 months following the date of return to the workplace.

The budget for employing the person on parental leave remains within the School and can be spent as required on replacement staffing, except for the part of the budget used for supporting the returner.

Read the full information on the process for both managers and staff members.

For staff who do not have access to a private office, the University provides dedicated ‘parents room’ facilities for breastfeeding parents, including in the Library on Whiteknights Campus. More details are available through the Parents Network.

Examples of parental leave within the School

"I have taken three periods of maternity leave in my time here, with a different experience each time. After the birth of my first child, my husband and I took shared parental leave, so that I took 6 months leave and he took 3 months leave before our daughter started at the Reading Students' Union nursery on campus. 

After the birth of my second child, my husband was unable to take shared lead, so I took 9 months leave. After the birth of my third child, I had planned to take 7 months leave.

My maternity leave fell during the global pandemic so that my planned return to work fell during the third UK lockdown and I had home schooling responsibilities. I therefore extended my leave through using accrued annual leave to take an additional month off before returning to work.

As I breastfed each of my children, each time upon returning to work, I was able to express milk in my private office when necessary, and, when my children were attending the Reading Students' Union nursery, I was able to go into the nursery 1-2 times a day to breastfeed them. I really appreciated the support from both the School and the nursery regarding this."

–  Sam Rawlings, Associate Professor in Economics

"I went on maternity leave one year into my three-year contract with the University. Initially I assumed there would not be occupational maternity pay available for me due to the nature of the contract and the fact that I was relatively new to the job. But the University’s Occupational Maternity Pay Scheme provided me with enhanced benefits and assurance.

While on maternity leave, an opportunity for a permanent lectureship came up. I saw the advert but was worried that my situation may disadvantage me somehow as I would not be able to contribute a great deal to teaching and learning, administration, or research while on maternity leave, and even after my return to work my contributions would come gradually. But after consulting with colleagues, I was assured that the recruitment process would be fair to all applicants including me while on maternity leave.

Having enjoyed working at UoR, I submitted my application and was offered an interview. The interview was challenging as it was conducted online due to COVID-19 and included a student panel judging interviewees’ performance. However, I did not feel disadvantaged by my situation and in the end, I got the dream job.

While on leave, I was contacted by my line manager and other colleagues who cared for my general well-being during COVID-19. Such collegiality was greatly appreciated. With encouragement and support, I managed to revise and resubmit until a co-authored paper for publication in a top economics journal.

I was also able to participate in research projects that involved students working with academics during the summer 2021. Since I returned to work after being on leave for 8 months, I was able to organise my work so I could continue to work from home for the rest of the academic year, thanks to the guidance and support from my line manager and other colleagues.

All in all, I am very pleased and grateful for what the Department, School, and University have done to support my maternity leave and return to work. It was a very challenging time, both physically and emotionally, to have a child during COVID-19 but the support at my workplace made it easy and enjoyable."

– Fangya Xu, Lecturer in Economics

"I went on maternity leave in June 2020, returning in April 2021. The Department of Economics was very supportive during my pregnancy.

Having a history of pregnancy loss and suffering from all-day pregnancy nausea, I was given a teaching assistant who supported my teaching. Fortunately, all went well but having someone who could step in should I need to go on sick leave, and who could share the load of my three-hour workshops, was a great anxiety reliever.

I was also able, facilitated by the department, to attend meetings remotely (pre-pandemic) which helped with managing the nausea and tiredness. One of the biggest concerns about being on maternity leave was the impact it would have on my research. On my return to work I was given a return-to-work fund to help support my research which enabled me to make up for lost research time.

All my teaching was also moved to the Spring term which helped take the pressure off on my return to work, giving me a chance to catch up on things before having to worry to about my teaching."

–  Sarah Jewell, Associate Professor of Economics


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