skip to content

Human Resources


The policy of the University of Cambridge is to provide benefits which comply with the letter and the spirit of the law on ordinary parental leave.

This policy applies to all members of staff who have a year's service and aims to inform them of their entitlement to statutory ordinary parental leave and ensure that these rights are understood.


Employees eligible to take ordinary parental leave are all those (mothers and fathers) to which all of these criteria apply:

  • Have been employed by University for more than a year;
  • Are named on the child’s birth or adoption certificate;
  • Have or expect to have parental responsibility for the child;
  • Their child is under 18 years old.

Statement of policy

This document states the University's policy on ordinary parental leave available to all eligible employees and provides additional guidance on issues surrounding ordinary parental leave.

The legislation relevant to this policy is:

  • Employment Relations Act 1999
  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/3312)
  • Maternity and Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/4010)
  • Parental Leave (EU Directive) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/283)

Ordinary Parental Leave

Eligible employees may take 18 weeks’ unpaid leave in total for each child up until the child’s 18th birthday.

This is subject to the following provisions:

  • Leave must be taken in blocks or multiples of one week (except for parents of children with disabilities who may take leave in blocks or multiples of one day. For the purposes of ordinary parental leave, a child with a disability is one for whom disability living allowance has been awarded.)
  • In all cases a maximum of 4 weeks' ordinary parental leave in a year can be taken in respect of an individual child
  • 21 days' notice must be given

The Head of Department can postpone the leave for up to 6 months where the business would be particularly disrupted if leave were taken at the time requested, except when the employee gives notice to take parental leave immediately after the time the child is born or is placed with the family for adoption.

Ordinary parental leave following maternity/adoption leave

When ordinary parental leave follows maternity or adoption leave the general rule is that an employee is entitled to return to the same job they had before the leave. If at the end of maternity or adoption leave, this would not have been reasonably practicable, and it is still not reasonably practicable at the end of ordinary parental leave, they are entitled to return to a similar job which has the same or better status, terms and conditions as the old job.

Return to work

At the end of ordinary parental leave an employee is guaranteed the right to return to the same job as before, provided that the leave was for a period of 4 weeks or less. If the leave was for a longer period, the employee is entitled to return to the same job, or, if that is not reasonably practicable, a similar job which has the same or better status, terms and conditions as the old job.

Non-return to work

If an employee is unable to return to work at the end of their ordinary parental leave because they are medically unfit, they should report their sickness absence and submit medical certification in the usual way. They will transfer from parental leave to sick leave. Subsequently, normal sickness procedures will be followed.

If an employee does not return to work following a period of ordinary parental leave for a reason other than sickness absence (or other authorised leave), their job remains open and they do not automatically lose their right to return. However, their absence will be treated as unauthorised absence under the University's disciplinary policies for that category of staff.

Other family-friendly policies



The member of staff should give notice, using CHRIS/66 form (formerly PLAF), at least 21 days' before the requested date of leave.

Grant of leave

On receipt of the ordinary parental leave application form, the Human Resources Division will write to the member of staff confirming that leave has been granted.


Policy ownership and status

The HR Division will be responsible for reviewing this policy on a regular basis in light of any changes in legislation and in consultation with the Unions.