Annex 14 - Policy for maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental leave for research students

1. Introduction

1.1 This policy is designed to ensure that individuals with caring responsibilities for young children are treated fairly and consistently and are not treated less favourably than other students as a result of their parental responsibilities. Following the birth or placement of a child, eligible research students can take maternity, adoption, paternity or shared parental leave as appropriate.

2. Definition of terms used

2.1 Maternity leave – a period of up to 52 weeks of leave that may be taken by research students registered at the University of Bristol following the birth of a child.

2.2 Adoption leave - a period of up to 52 weeks of leave that may be taken by research students registered at the University of Bristol following the placement of a child with an adoptive parent.

2.3 Paternity leave – ordinary paternity leave refers to a period of up to ten days leave available to the partner of the person giving birth, the partner of the primary adopter or an intended parent (for those having a baby through a surrogacy agreement).

2.4 Shared parental leave - a mechanism though which a parent may share their partner’s entitlement to maternity or adoption leave

3. Terms and Conditions

3.1 Suspension of study

3.1.1 Any research student applying for maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental leave should submit a request in writing to the Faculty PGR Director for a suspension of study for the relevant period.

3.1.2 Requests for suspension of study should be made on the appropriate form which is available from your school Postgraduate Administrator and require supporting evidence which will either be a MAT1B form or evidence of placement of a child for adoption. (A MATB1 form is issued approximately 15 weeks before the expected week of birth and is normally provided by the midwife).

3.1.3 When the suspension is granted, the student’s final submission date will be amended to take these circumstances into account, and the student will be notified of the new submission date by the Faculty.

3.1.4 After the suspension is agreed and signed by the Faculty PGR Director, the Faculty Office should send a copy of the relevant paperwork to the School and the Student Funding Office. The Faculty Office will update the student’s record in SITS to reflect the change to the student’s registration status. The Student Funding Office will make any appropriate changes to the student’s stipend payments as advised by the Faculty Office.

3.2 Payments to students

3.2.1 UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-funded students will be entitled to payment for maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental leave as outlined in this policy.

3.2.2 Students who are funded by the University of Bristol PG Scholarship will be entitled to payment for maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental leave as outlined in this policy.

3.2.3 Students who are funded by their faculty or school will be entitled to payment for maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental leave as outlined in this policy.

3.2.4 Students who receive external funding either directly from an external organisation or an external award administered through the University of Bristol must consult with their funder to determine whether payments can be made during periods resulting from adoption, paternity and shared parental leave. If the funder does not provide additional money to fund periods of leave, the University is not liable to provide any payment.

3.2.5 Students who are self-funded (and those entitled to tuition fee only awards), are entitled to the periods of leave detailed within this policy, but will not be eligible for any financial support from the University.

3.2.6 Payments made to University-funded students who are either part-time, or only part-funded by the University, will be subject to a pro-rata adjustment in line with the percentage of funding received.

3.3 Students with UKVI student visas (formally known as Tier 4)

3.3.1 In the case of students sponsored by the University under UKVI student visa (formally known as Tier 4), suspension as a result of parental leave may require the University to withdraw sponsorship and for the student to return to their home country for the duration of the leave. In such cases, students will thereafter need to apply to the University for a new CAS number to apply for a new visa to resume their studies.

3.3.2 All requests for parental leave must be made in good time to permit time for approval of the request and to ensure travel home can be made following the report of the suspension to the UKVI. 

3.3.3 In all cases, advice should be sought from the International Student Visa Advice and Compliance Team as early as possible (especially in the case of a pregnancy) to ensure compliance with the student visa (formally known as Tier 4) can be maintained.

3.4 Repayment of stipend payments

3.4.1 Should a student not return to their studies after the period of suspension, any stipend paid during that period will normally be recovered by the University. This requirement could be waived in exceptional circumstances, which would be approved on a case-by-case basis, by the Faculty PGR Director.

3.4.2 Students should return to studies at the University in a full or part-time capacity (at least 50% FTE), for at least 3 months following maternity or adoption leave. Should a student not return to their studies after the period of suspension, any stipend paid during that period will normally be recovered by the University.  This requirement could be waived in exceptional circumstances, which would be approved on a case-by-case basis, by the Faculty PGR Director. There is no minimum period of return required after paternity leave.

4 Maternity leave

4.1 Stipend payments during maternity leave

4.1.1 The following table outlines a students’ entitlement to stipend payments during maternity leave which is dependent upon the source of funding:

Funding source

Leave Entitlement

Stipend Payments

UKRI-funded

52 weeks

26 weeks full stipend followed by 13 weeks at reduced rate and 13 weeks unpaid.

University-funded

52 weeks

26 weeks full stipend followed by 13 weeks at reduced rate and 13 weeks unpaid.

School- or Faculty-funded

52 weeks

26 weeks full stipend followed by 13 weeks at reduced rate and 13 weeks unpaid.

Externally-funded

52 weeks

Payments at the discretion of the funder

Self-funded

52 weeks

No payment

4.1.2 The reduced rate refers to an equivalent payment that is available to staff who are entitled to statutory maternity pay. The lower level of statutory maternity pay is set by the government each year (see https://www.gov.uk/maternity-pay-leave).

4.1.3 Students who are unsure about the source of their funding should contact their School Postgraduate Administrator for clarification.

4.1.4 Students who are registered at less than 100% will receive their standard pro-rata stipend payments (for the initial 26-week period as above) followed by 13 weeks of the reduced payment, with the appropriate pro-rata percentage applied.

4.1.5 Students do not have to take the full 52 weeks maternity leave and can opt for a shorter period of maternity leave; however, in line with guidance for staff, students should take at least two weeks leave following the birth of the child.

5 Adoption leave

5.1 Students who are planning to or who have become parents as a result of adoption are entitled to the same support and advice as other students who become parents during their studies, and the processes, leave allowances and stipend payments outlined in the table above and elsewhere in this policy apply equally.

5.2 It is acknowledged that the time-frame for adoption arrangements may not allow as much time for planning in comparison with a pregnant student, and where this is the case, the student and the member of staff will follow the principles and processes as far as they are able.

5.3 Where two students are jointly adopting, only one member of the couple can be considered as the primary caregiver, who will be entitled to be considered for maternity related absence. The other partner will be afforded the same entitlements as is outlined for partners entitled to paternity leave and shared parental leave.

5.4 All references to adoption and adoption leave include circumstances where individuals foster a child for adoption or are ‘Parental Order’ intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement.

6. Paternity leave

6.1 All research students registered at the University of Bristol are eligible for paternity leave, if they are:

and

6.2 In the case of couples who are adopting a child or having a child through a surrogacy arrangement, adoption leave and pay are available to only one member of the couple. The other person can take paternity leave.

6.3 Paternity leave permits the individual to take up to 10 days leave on full stipend. Paternity leave must be taken in blocks of not less than one week. The funding end date should be extended to cover this period of absence.

7 Shared parental leave

7.1 Shared parental leave is a mechanism though which a parent may share their partner’s entitlement to maternity or adoption leave, and is available to those who meet the following eligibility criteria:

(i)            They must share responsibility for the child with one of the following: their husband/wife/civil partner, or the child’s other parent, or their partner (if they live with them) and they must provide a written statement from the other parent to confirm this;

(ii)           They must be taking the leave to look after the child;

(iii)          The other parent must have qualified for maternity leave or pay; or statutory adoption leave or pay or maternity allowance, or have qualified for the payment of a stipend during maternity leave under a policy such as this, (e.g. if she is also a research student);

(iv)          The other parent must have returned to work and must no longer be in receipt of maternity/adoption pay or allowance, or must have returned to their research/studies if they are also a research student, (the start and end dates of their leave must be provided);

(v)           The other parent must have some entitlement to maternity or adoption leave remaining;

(vi)          The terms and conditions of their grant must not specifically exclude the taking of such leave.

7.2 The number of weeks that may be taken as shared parental leave will depend on how many of the other parent’s 52 weeks of maternity or adoption leave, they have remaining, but will in any event be capped at a maximum entitlement of 39 weeks. Shared parental leave must be taken as a continuous block and may not end later than the child’s first birthday.

7.3 The payments and leave entitlement reflect those made to students undertaking maternity leave. Therefore, qualifying students in receipt of UKRI funding, or funded by the University of Bristol Scholarship, faculty- or school-funding, will continue to be paid at full stipend for shared parental leave taken in the 26 weeks following the birth of the child, or at the reduced rate in the 13 weeks after week 26.

7.4 The student should apply for a suspension of study as outlined above. All applications should be submitted with a statement from the parent, in receipt of the paid maternity or adoption leave, confirming that the applicant for shared parent leave is their husband/wife/civil partner, or the child’s other parent. In addition, the student must also provide the contact details of the employer of the individual in receipt of paid maternity or adoption leave (to check when their entitlement to maternity or adoption leave/pay ends). A form can be obtained from the student’s Faculty Office for this purpose.

7.5 Where the individual in receipt of maternity of adoption leave is also a research student, please provide details of the relevant HE Institution.