HR Policy
To Be Categorised
HR24
HR Officers
HR Policy Group
Director of Workforce
16 December 2013
01 May 2021
01 May 2024
7

General Note

NHS Fife acknowledges and agrees with the importance of regular and timely review of policy/procedure statements and aims to review policies within the timescales set out.

New policies/procedures will be subject to a review date of no more than 1 year from the date of first issue.

Reviewed policies/procedures will have a review date set that is relevant to the content (advised by the author) but will be no longer than 3 years.

If a policy/procedure is past its review date then the content will remain extant until such time as the policy/procedure review is complete and the new version published, or there are national policy or legislative changes.

 

1. FUNCTION

 

This policy has been developed to ensure NHS Fife meets it’s obligations within the Agenda for Change and Hospital Medical and Dental Staff, Doctors and Dentists in Public Health Medicine and the Community Health Service Terms and Conditions of Service.

It is recognised by NHS Fife that work and parenthood can create conflicting pressures.  Parents need time with their children and time to create a supportive home in which their children can thrive. Parental Leave is therefore aimed at encouraging a culture of flexible working practices to allow all employees with child care responsibilities to balance family and work commitments, thus improving their participation within the work place.

Parental Leave is expressly for the purpose of allowing parents to spend quality time with their children and to assist in balancing this with work commitments, thus improving their participation in the workplace.       

Abuse of Parental Leave

If the employee uses the leave for some other purpose, eg paid employment within the NHS or leave unrelated to the care of children, then this may be investigated under the NHS Scotland Workforce Policies Investigation process and could be referred to a formal panel under the relevant NHSScotland Workforce Policy.

 

2. LOCATION

 

The scheme applies to all employees of NHS Fife, whether they are full time or part time, with twelve months continuous service with one or more NHS employers, who have nominated caring responsibilities for a child under the age of eighteen years.

 

3. RESPONSIBILITY

 

The responsibility for the application of the policy rests with Line Managers and HR staff within NHS Fife.

4. OPERATIONAL SYSTEM     

The prime aims of the policy are to ensure that all employees have access to leave arrangements which support them in balancing their work responsibilities with their personal commitments.

Eligibility

You must have 1 years employment with one or more NHS employers and you must have parental responsibility for your child. This means you must be named on one of the following:

  • their birth certificate
  • their adoption certificate
  • a parental order, for surrogacy
  • a legal guardianship

If you're a step-parent, you can also have parental responsibility if it's agreed by both biological parents. 

If you're separated from the other parent or do not live with your child, you still have the right to parental leave if you keep parental responsibility for your child.

Employees who meet the above requirements are entitled to a total of eighteen weeks parental leave, consisting of 4 weeks paid leave per child up until their 14th Birthday, with the remaining 14 weeks unpaid leave which can be taken up until the child’s eighteenth birthday.* 

In the case of an adopted child or a child with a disability, entitlement is 4 weeks paid leave and 14 weeks unpaid leave which can be taken up until the child’s eighteenth birthday. For the purposes of parental leave, a disabled child will be a child in receipt of disability living allowance or Personal independence payment.

During the first 4 weeks of parental leave, the employee will receive pay, at their normal rate of pay, as if they had been at work.  The remaining weeks will be unpaid.

This parental leave may be taken as either: -

  • a single block; or
  • an annual allowance; or
  • under any other individual arrangements agreed between an employee and their Line Manager (following guidance from Human Resources) e.g. single working days, blocks of one week, reduced working hours
  • Additional flexibility should be given if the child is in receipt of a disability living allowance or Personal independence payment

Reasons you may take parental leave to be with your child could be to:

  • spend more time with them
  • look after them during school holidays
  • care for them when they're off school sick
  • go to school open days or events with them
  • settle them into new childcare arrangements
  • visit grandparents with them

An employee may not work for any other employer during any periods of parental leave, however, in circumstances where the employee has another part time post within or outwith NHS Fife, this should be considered at the time of application.

* Whilst the legislative position is 18 weeks unpaid leave, NHS Scotland offers 4 weeks paid parental leave entitlements for children up to age fourteen, (age eighteen for adopted or disabled children).

 

Notification of Intention to Take Parental Leave

An employee who intends to exercise their right to Parental Leave must apply for Parental Leave, by using the attached application form to notify their Line Manager, before they intend to commence Parental Leave.  Employees must include in the application the date on which they intend to commence and return from, Parental Leave. In order to assist with service provision employees are required to give 21 days notice. Employees who are requesting more than four weeks leave, at any one period of time, are required to give a minimum of 2 months notice of their intention to take Parental Leave.  There will be rare cases where notice cannot be given.  In these cases, parents should give the notice as soon as reasonably practicable.         

The Line Manager and the employee must discuss the terms on which the employee will exercise their right to Parental Leave (e.g. is it to be taken as a single block, as an annual allowance or under any other individual arrangement).  The employee’s Line Manager will then confirm this in writing. 

The employee must also provide appropriate documentation. e.g.

  • copy of the Birth Certificate of the child for whom they are applying for Parental Leave
  • copy of adoption papers. 
  • copy of papers confirming the award of the child’s disability living allowance or personal independence payment.
  • If you are a step parent additional to the above, please provide signed agreement from both biological parents to confirm you have parental responsibility for the child.

The employee only has to provide this information on the first occasion of applying for Parental Leave.

If a father is applying for Parental Leave around the time of the birth of their child, they will be required to provide a copy of the MAT B1 certificate. 

In exceptional circumstances, due to the needs of the service, the employee may be asked to postpone their Parental Leave, until a later date.  Postponement would only take place after discussion with the employee.  

The leave will not be postponed for more than six months from the date on which the employee wanted to start Parental Leave. The Line Manager and the employee should try to agree a suitable time but, if they cannot, the Line Manager becomes responsible for guaranteeing that the employee can take the leave at a time, no more than six months ahead, which best fits the needs of the service and the employee.  If this means that leave is postponed beyond the age fourteen limit for paid parental leave, or eighteen for unpaid parental leave, or in the case of an adopted child or a child with a disability eighteen for paid and unpaid parental leave, the parent maintains their right to the leave.

The Line Manager should confirm the postponement arrangements in writing no later than seven days after the employee’s notice to take leave is given. The Line Manager should clearly state the reasons for the postponement.  In addition to this, the new dates when the employee may take Parental Leave should be given, ensuring that the length of this leave is equivalent to the employee’s original request.

 

Right to Return

In applying for Parental Leave, employees are normally entitled to return to their existing jobs.  In exceptional circumstances e.g. organisational change, they are entitled to return to an equivalent or similar job which is consistent with their contract of employment.

Absence on Parental Leave will not break continuity of service. An employee’s contract of employment will continue during the whole period of parental leave, unless either party expressly terminates it by dismissal or resignation.

The employee will not be bound by any contractual terms whilst on unpaid leave except terms relating to Standards of Business Conduct for NHS Staff, which will also bind the employer.

 

Employees Who Change Jobs       

In some circumstances, employees who commence employment may previously have been entitled to receive and have taken their full entitlement to Parental Leave, with another employer.  In these cases, employees cannot receive any further entitlement to Parental Leave, unless they have another child for whom they have not previously received Parental Leave.  In some cases, NHS Fife may write to the employee’s previous employer to confirm whether or not the employee has received their full entitlement to Parental Leave.  On application for a period of parental leave the employee will be required to complete the parental leave declaration form providing details of previous periods of parental leave.  NHS Fife would verify this by writing to the previous employer.      

If an employee leaves employment the organisation will provide, if requested, a record of the employee’s Parental Leave. 

 

Sick Leave

Parental Leave will not be treated as sick leave and will not therefore be taken into account for the calculation of sick leave entitlement in accordance with the Occupational and Statutory sick pay schemes.

If an employee fails to return to work on the notified date and submits the appropriate medical certificate, the provisions of the Occupational and Statutory sick pay schemes will apply.

           

Increments

Absence on Parental Leave shall count towards the normal annual increment on an employee’s scale in accordance with the Agenda for Change and Hospital Medical and Dental Staff, Doctors and Dentists in Public Health Medicine and the Community Health Service Terms and Conditions of Service.  Normal increment dates will not be deferred.

 

Annual Leave

A period of unpaid Parental Leave shall count towards the calculation of annual leave entitlement, in accordance with the Agenda for Change and Hospital Medical and Dental Staff, Doctors and Dentists in Public Health Medicine and the Community Health Service Terms and Conditions of Service and the employee’s contract of employment.

 

Superannuation

Employees who are contributing to the NHS Scotland Superannuation Scheme, will, on return to work have to pay the superannuation owed for the weeks of unpaid Parental Leave.  This may be paid in a lump sum or instalments by agreement with the Payroll Department, preferably within the same financial year.

It is strongly recommended that the employee raises this matter with the Payroll Department before they commence unpaid Parental Leave, since significant underpayments of superannuation can accrue.

 

Compliance        

Employees who exercise their right to their entitlement to Parental Leave will be protected against dismissal or any other action, which is in connection with the fact, that they have exercised their right to take up their entitlement to Parental Leave.  This does not negate an employee’s responsibility for ensuring that they notify their Line Manager of their intention to take Parental Leave.

 

Enquiries to:

The employee’s local Human Resources Department.

 

5. RELATED DOCUMENTS

           

Other HR policies, employee’s terms and conditions and application for parental leave form.

6. REFERENCES

 

  • Agenda for Change and Hospital Medical and Dental Staff, Doctors and Dentists in Public Health Medicine and the Community Health Service Terms and Conditions of Service
  • Other HR Policies
  • Statutory Regulations
  • NHS Circular PCS(AFC)2013/4
  • Worklife Balance PIN Policy

Appendices