The Department of Computer Science sets out in this page its commitment for supporting staff in relation to maternity, paternity and adoption.
The Department follows and implements all College policies and procedures in relation to maternity, paternity and adoption, which can be found in the HR website under Family Friendly Policies. This page does not fully transcribe those policies, and should therefore be read in conjunction with the official College documents.
In each section below, we start by summarizing College policy and then add (in bold) Department-specific policy items that reflect our ethos.
In relation to adoption, departmental policies that apply to maternity also apply to the individual who adopts or, in the case of a couple jointly adopting, the partner that the couple chooses to take adoption leave. Paternity policies apply to the partner of an individual who adopts or the other member of a couple who are adopting jointly.
The Department is clear that there will be no discrimination and bias of any form in relation to staff who benefit from these policies. The Department is committed to ensuring equality and diversity and the purpose of this policy statement is to ensure that parents and parents-to-be have the opportunity to integrate the development of a career with their family responsibilities.
You can also download our Departmental Maternity/Paternity/Adoption policy statement.
Support offered to staff before they go on maternity/adoption leave
All pregnant employees, irrespective of length of service, are entitled to reasonable paid time-off during normal working hours to receive antenatal care made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, registered midwife or registered health visitor. During the time-off for antenatal care the College pays staff at their normal hourly rate of pay.
Staff are asked to advise their line manager as far in advance as is possible of the time and date of any appointment. Line managers carry out a risk assessment to identify any hazards to the staff member’s health or that of her unborn child, typically within five days of being notified and with input from the staff member and advice from the Health and Safety Department; they also agree annual-leave arrangements prior to maternity leave commencing wherever possible. Line managers are also asked to ensure that the staff member is not treated less favourably as a result of her pregnancy.
Time-off for pre-adoption leave up to the permitted number of days are paid at the employee's normal rate of basic pay.
The Department specifically commits to being flexible in accommodating any specific needs of the member of staff.
Support offered to staff during maternity/adoption leave
Line managers are asked to make reasonable contact with the staff member during their maternity/adoption leave depending on the individual circumstances and as agreed between both parties prior to the commencement of the leave; this is so that the staff member is kept up-to-date with changes in the workplace, including opportunities for promotion, or to discuss their return to work. They are also asked to agree with the staff member any Keeping in Touch Days (KIT Days) that they may wish to uptake.
The Department commits to providing, within reason, resources that the staff member may need to maintain departmental contact, and research activities or teaching-related initiatives or pedagogic research during leave.
The Department specifically commits, within its means, to ensuring that, while on leave, no member of staff will be discriminated against in relation to research projects in which they are involved, in particular that they are kept informed of all project activities and given the opportunity to attend meetings, physically or remotely.
Support offered to staff when returning to work after maternity/adoption leave
On return to work, line managers agree a meeting with the staff member for dealing with any housekeeping matters and ensuring that they settle in smoothly; this includes a return-to-work plan for which the Department of Human Resources provides a typical checklist to be adapted to the circumstances.
The College makes every effort to consider and accommodate requests for reasonable adjustments to workload following a period of maternity/adoption leave in order to enable the member of staff to settle back into work on a gradual basis.
Staff are also advised to consult the Working Families Web site for guidance.
Depending on circumstances, to support their research career, the Department will consider a reduction in teaching and administration load for academic staff on non-teaching focused contracts during an initial period after their return from maternity or adoption leave. Some funding will also be made available for equipment, travel to conferences, and research visits to (or from) collaborators.
Support offered to staff when taking paternity leave or shared parental leave
The College pays full pay for both the first and second week of Ordinary Paternity Leave; this payment will include SSP if applicable. There is flexibility in changing the date on which staff members want their ordinary paternity leave to start, for example if the baby is born before it is due.
The College’s policy on Shared Parental Leave applies to members of staff regardless of whether they are the mother or the partner. The College may pay more generous occupational shared parental leave pay (“OShPP”) to employees who meet certain conditions; this currently reflects the rate payable through the College occupational maternity pay taking into account the compulsory two-week maternity leave period following the birth of the child.
Shared Parental Leave provisions are complex and the College encourages members of staff to clarify their Shared Parental Leave rights with the Human Resources Department to ensure that they access their full leave entitlement if they so wish and that requests are handled as smoothly as possible.
Support offered to staff with children
The University has an on-campus nursery, the Englefield Green Nursery and Preschool, which is managed by Bright Horizons. This is for the children of staff, students and the local community. Staff and students have priority places when a waiting list is operated. This is an HMRC work-placed nursery with tax advantages for RHUL parents who send their children there: this is a salary-sacrifice scheme whereby Childcare Vouchers are issued in exchange for a reduction in salary of the same amount. Tax and National Insurance contributions are not paid on the vouchers, which is where the financial savings are made.
The Department is very accommodating in granting (informal) flexible working to staff. Typically, working from home is permitted as long as it does not interfere with the functioning of the Department.
Where possible, the scheduled departmental committee meetings are held in the afternoon, starting early enough to finish before 4pm; no departmental meetings are organised during school half-term breaks unless it is strictly necessary to meet College requirements, for example in relation to the June exam period. Ad-hoc meetings are scheduled in consultation with the people involved. The dates of meetings are publicised well in advance and staff are encouraged to select the most suitable dates using online tools.