Exeter University launches trail-blazing maternity scheme:  six months leave on full pay from first day at work

Exeter University launches trail-blazing maternity scheme: six months leave on full pay from first day at work

New mums at the University of Exeter will be entitled to six months maternity leave on full pay from the day they start work in one of the most generous parental leave packages in the public sector.

Partners will also be entitled to six weeks paternity leave on full pay as part of a raft of new family-friendly initiatives to support working parents introduced by the University of Exeter this month.

The new parental leave programme is the most generous among Russell Group Universities, and among the most progressive in the public sector. 

The new package of measures is expected to provide additional incentives to the brightest academics to move to Exeter from other institutions.

It is part of a wider package of support for employees with families, including support for people undergoing fertility treatment and adopting children.

A new multi-million pound workplace nursery for staff with children will open in the autumn.  

Unlike most other parental leave schemes, new mums and their partners will qualify for parental leave on full pay on the day they start work. Most other schemes require employees to have worked for several months or even a year to qualify for such benefits.

100 per cent of academic staff at Exeter already return to work after maternity or paternity leave.

Jacqui Marshall, Deputy Registrar & Director of People Services and Global Partnerships, said:

“Gone are the days when staff – including early career researchers – feel they have to choose between having children and career progression. This package of measures shows not just a long-term commitment by the University of Exeter to our employees, but our dedication to investing in staff at crucial periods of their career.   By investing in new parents so they can take maternity and paternity leave on full pay from their first day at work, we are demonstrating the depth of our commitment to family-friendly working.”

New parents, from their first day at work will be paid their full salary for six months and will be able to share the leave between them. They will then be entitled to 13 further weeks statutory pay.

The new rights, which are introduced this month, will also apply to parents who adopt.

Women undergoing fertility treatment will also be able to take five days a year on full pay, while partners of those taking fertility treatment will be able to take two days to attend appointments.

Dr Lucy Rowland, 30, a researcher on tropical ecosystem physiology and environmental change in the geography department, and Dr Tim Hill, a researcher on land use change in the Geography department  are expecting their first child in August.

Dr Rowland said:  “We had both decided that to take shared parental leave when our baby arrives. We welcome the new changes to Exeter’s parental leave policy, as they have helped make the practicalities of shared parental leave easier.”

Another female employee, who asked not to be named, who goes on maternity leave this month said the new arrangements were “quite mindblowing” and “an incredibly positive thing to have done.”

“I’m due to go off on maternity leave and it’s been a massive worry how I’ll actually be able to afford to take the time off.   The new arrangements make such a difference and it’s such an incredibly positive thing to have done.”

Under the old parental leave scheme, which was replaced on April 6th 2018, staff were entitled to maternity, adoption and shared parental pay on full pay for 8 weeks followed by 16 weeks half pay as well as statutory maternity pay.

Exeter University already has a flexible and home working policy for staff with caring responsibilities, as well as emergency leave for child illness.

The University has also a staff network for parents and carers to support staff to manage their work and family responsibilities.

Academics returning from maternity, paternity  or shared parental leave can also request a phased return to work, for example with one or two days per week at first.

To support breastfeeding, nursing mothers can use designated rooms at all three campuses at Exeter University.

Staff who need to attend conferences away from home can also claim expenses for additional childcare.

The University has appointed Professor Dan Charman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor & Executive Dean (College of Life Environmental Sciences) as the senior champion for working parents within the University.

A new £3 million purpose-built nursery for the children of staff, with more childcare places than the existing nursery and extended opening hours will open in September in Exeter.  The new nursery will have extra outside space to allow children to play and explore.

Date: 18 April 2018

Read more University News