In recognition of the unique challenges of Service life, a range of parenthood-supporting leave policies are available to assist Service parents (and those who are about to become parents).
These policies, which are set out in JSP 760, include: Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave, Shared Parental Leave, Paternity Leave and Parental Leave.
The New Parent Pack (NPP).
The NPP is a suite of parenthood-focussed guides for new parents and their Line Managers. Accessible on-line, the NPP has drawn national recognition from such organisations as the ‘Working Families’ charity. The NPP can be found via the following link: NPP.
A Parenthood Policies Survey has been introduced to garner feedback from those who have taken advantage of parenthood-supporting policies. The intent is for policy staffs to reflect upon any feedback with a view to developing policy enhancements where necessary. Unit HR staff will encourage those who are returning from Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave, Shared Parental Leave and Paternity Leave to complete the Survey.
Feedback is welcomed from anyone who has returned from any form of parenthood-supporting leave in the past 5 years.
Parenthood-Supporting Leave Policies
The various parenthood-supporting leave policies are summarised below. It is stressed that what follows are high-level summaries of these policies; personnel are encouraged to read the policy detail contained in JSP 760 and are to note any eligibility criteria. Further guidance can be obtained via Unit HR staff.
Eligible female personnel, regardless of their length of service, are entitled to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave and, subject to meeting the qualifying criteria, may be eligible for 39 weeks of Statutory pay, the first 26 of which may be enhanced to their full pay rate. a. The health and safety of a pregnant women and her unborn child and subsequently the mother and her new born baby, are paramount and will be safeguarded in accordance with the law. A risk assessment is to be carried out and where it is identified that the pregnant women cannot carry out her primary duties, suitable alternative work may be appropriate. b. In order that female personnel may receive tailored fitness training during pregnancy, maternity leave and on return to work, several RAF PTIs have been trained to deliver pre- and post-natal PT sessions.
Leave for Ante-Natal Appointments
Following notification and confirmation of pregnancy, all pregnant personnel are entitled to time off with pay to attend appointments for ante-natal care made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, registered midwife or registered health visitor. Ante-natal care can include attendance at a parent craft class as well as medical examinations.
The other parent, who is not the mother, can apply to take up to 2 days paid leave to accompany an expectant mother to ante-natal appointments. This applies to individuals who will become parents through a surrogacy arrangement if they expect to satisfy the conditions for (and intend to apply for) a Parental Order for the child born.
Shared Parental Leave
Shared Parental Leave allows eligible parents to choose how to share the care of their child in the first year of the child’s life. Eligible personnel can end their Maternity Leave early and with their spouse, civil partner, partner or the child’s father, opt to take Shared Parental Leave instead of Maternity Leave. 6. The maximum Shared Parental Leave available is 50 weeks and the maximum Shared Parental pay available is 37 weeks. Shared Parental pay is payable at an Occupational rate (full daily rate of pay) or Statutory rate, dependent upon both parents meeting certain qualifying and eligibility criteria.
Paternity Leave is given to recognise the birth or the adoption of a child (where the Service Person applying for Paternity Leave is not taking Adoption Leave) to enable the Service Person to care for the child or support the child’s mother or adopter. Two weeks paid leave may be taken consecutively or as 2 separate whole week periods. Paternity Leave can be taken when a person is either: the biological father of the child (with parental responsibility); not biological father (but having parental responsibility), who is married to, in a civil partnership with or living with the mother in an enduring family relationship (excluding immediate family members); married or in a civil partnership with the child’s adopter (or co-adopter where there are 2 adopters); or living with the adopter (or coadopter where there are 2 adopters) in an enduring family relationship (excluding immediate family members).
All qualifying personnel are entitled to take up to 52 weeks of Adoption Leave. This is made up of 26 weeks Ordinary Adoption Leave (OAL) followed immediately by 26 weeks Additional Adoption Leave (AAL). Subject to meeting the qualifying criteria for OAL and AAL, individuals may be eligible for 39 weeks of Statutory pay, the first 26 weeks of which may be enhanced to their full rate of pay (Occupational pay). Adoption Leave is available to individuals adopting a child on their own, or one member of a couple adopting a child together. Only one parent of a couple is eligible for Adoption Leave/Adoption Pay and is known as the Primary Adopter. The other parent may be eligible for Paternity Leave and Pay or Shared Parental Leave. However, no individual may take both Adoption Leave and Paternity Leave in respect of the same adoption placement.
Time off for Adoption Appiontments
A Primary Adopter (the one taking adoption leave) may apply for paid time off to attend up to 5 pre-adoption appointments and the other parent can apply for paid time off to attend up to 2 adoption appointments. There is no entitlement to claim travel and subsistence costs when taking this type of leave. It is expected that Volunteer Reserves will, where possible, arrange appointments in their own time outside of when they are expected to attend for duty.
The aim of Parental Leave is to allow Service personnel unpaid leave to look after their child’s welfare by, for example: spending more time with the child; settling a child into new childcare arrangements; looking at new schools; or accompanying a child during a stay in hospital. Parental Leave should not be confused with Shared Parental Leave.
Parental Leave allows 18 weeks’ leave for each parent of each child and adopted child, up to the child’s 18th birthday. The limit on how much parental leave each parent can take in a year is 4 weeks for each child.