PGR maternity leave should have the flexibility and support of staff maternity leave

Passed: May 2022 (10th)

What do you want? / Why do you want it? 

PGRs occupy a middle-ground between being students and being staff. While they are entitled to maternity leave, this is treated as an extended leave of absence rather than as its own distinct thing. This means, for example, that PGRs must take their maternity leave from the first of the month to the end of a month. Given the relative unpredictability of when babies arrive (anywhere from 37-42 weeks is normal and healthy), this is impractical and undesirable. Similarly, PGRs on maternity leave do not get the opportunity for ‘check-in days’ in the way staff do, to ensure that they return to a manageable workload. 

LUU should lobby the university to increase the flexibility of PGR maternity leave to allow students to begin and end their leave on a date of their choosing, in line with what is offered to staff, and to fund at least one supervision every three months of leave. This will allow students to check in with their supervisors, discuss their thoughts on the work, keep up to date with progress in the field, identify upcoming relevant events, and chart a course for a smoother transition at the end of their leave. This also provides dedicated dates across the leave to check emails and do other admin to ease the transition back to work. LUU should also research PGR parent experiences, investigating how many PGRs take some form of parental leave, how many of them believe they would benefit from the above recommendations, and how this leave affects completion rates and changes to part-time study.

Expires: May 2025 (10th)

Submitted By: Hope Sara Bachmann

Officer: TBC

Area of Work: TBC


June 2023: Guidance doc is being created by the Doctoral College, giving clear instruction about how to use existing provision in stat maternity leave, holiday, exceptional circumstances leave etc... Given complications about when to take it, as many Visas often require leave on the first of the month, it's a tricky area to navigate. Doctoral College also talking to students at how best to communicate this.  This may be the most progress that can be attained for the moment, but will keep on top of this for further developments.  

March 2023: Matthew working with Doctoral College on making the workaround of this clear for PGR students who go on maternity leave. It would include a booklet. 

May 2022: Currently investigating workarounds for maternity leave to begin and end more flexibly, since the administrative systems don't allow for the change identified in the policy. Paula happy to pick up supervisor time requests for supervisions as a piece of work going forward - all that seems to be needed is buy-in from schools to fund the staff time. There is also a current consultation run by UKRI about postgraduate research and we've been encouraged (as LUU) to feed back about potentially including the larger ask of Keeping-in-touch (KIT) days. If UKRI adopt this approach, universities are likely to follow suit. Current actions: Paula, Luke and Mel to adopt getting school buy-in for maternity supervisions as a piece of work. Mel to meet with Hope to discuss the policy and give feedback about progress. Nicole to advertise the consultation across our PGR networks alongside information about our two current PGR policies (this, and PGR supervisor relationships).