Athena Swan

Policy Review

As part of our commitment to becoming a family-friendly centre of excellence, we recently reviewed our family policies. We wanted to ensure that our policies embrace the diversity in parenting, including:

  • adoptive
  • foster parents
  • single parents
  • those experiencing the birth of premature babies
  • those undergoing assisted conception
  • parents of children from 0-18
  • anyone with any kind of unpaid caring responsibility.

We consulted with colleagues with relevant lived experience to ensure that the new policies meet needs.

Our principle achievements include:

  • Removing all service qualification periods for all forms of family-friendly leave. Full occupational entitlement for time off and pay from the first day of employment
  • Increasing our paternity/partner leave entitlement for staff to 4 weeks at full pay. This is also a ‘Day 1’ entitlement
  • Enhancing provision for parents of premature babies (Employer with Heart Charter)
  • Introduced bereavement leave of up to two weeks for colleagues who experience an early miscarriage (<24 weeks gestation) and their partners
  • Creating a ‘Family Time policy’ with paid provision and time off for those who are foster carers (up to 8 days paid leave) and those undergoing assisted conception (paid time off for up to 10 appointments for colleagues undergoing the treatment and their partners)
  • A ‘Time for grandparents’ provision of up to one week unpaid leave when there is a new addition to the family
  • A ‘Time for school’ provision of a few hours off on your child’s first day of school
  • Reviewing and improving our Returners Support Programme providing flexible funded support (up to £10k) for all colleagues returning to work following a period of parental leave. This scheme is open to academics and professional services.
  • Decoupled our ‘Maternity/Adoption policy’ into two separate policies. Rewrote the ‘Adoption policy’ so that it was fit for purpose, reflecting the robust adoption process and building in more flexible timescales
  • Conducting a Carers’ Survey and approving an action plan to address challenges for colleagues and students in unpaid caring roles which has led to a standalone Carers Policy (additional 5 days of leave)
  • Made the tone of our policies warmer and the language more inclusive. We renamed our Maternity policy as ‘Maternity/Pregnancy policy’ and made the language gender neutral.
  • New online resources for colleagues and their line managers to guide them towards information and support (Parents & Carers One Stop Shop)