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Maternity leave and funding for staff on a fixed term contract

Research staff on a fixed term contract

Broadly speaking, the normal entitlement for maternity pay is almost six months on almost full pay (see HR pages). For staff on a fixed term contract, the length of paid maternity leave is capped by the end date of your contract. The cost (to the University) of maternity pay comes out of general overheads of department, not out of any external grant funding from your contract. In most cases there is therefore money available to the supervisor to:

(a) hire a temporary "maternity replacement"- someone who can step in and maintain progress of the project until you can return. This may be necessary to deliver a project within a defined time scale (particuarly on industry funded projects).

(b) fund an extension of the research project contract so the project is simply put on hold for the period of maternity leave (which the timescales of the project or the funder may or may not allow).

Talk to Ayesha Rahman or Katherine Branch to get advice.

Career development support for research staff taking maternity leave

Many research staff who take maternity leave are looking for career development in terms of what work they see to completion and what publications they achieve through their contract.

Use your Keeping in Touch (KIT) days to maintain contact and continuity with your research group.

Extending contract on return from maternity leave

If in doubt, talk with your supervisor and ask.

Supposing that the project does not require immediate maternity replacement, when can the contract be extended in proportion to maternity leave taken? You are entitled to (and should normally have) a copy of the grant which funds your contract, and that is a vital source of information. Ask for a copy if you need to. Talk with your supervisor.

1. For projects involving multiple researchers, check whether the associated workplan is really consistent with your role being put back.

2. Check the original funding end date, and whether any extension of that date has already been made or presumed.

Now there are three cases.

(i) Maternity extension fits within the original period of funding and budget for the project, or its extension has already been approved: you should be able to extend your contract in line with the funding.

(ii) Maternity extension of contract requires an extension of the grant, but the grant has not already been extended and budget is available: probably as i) but see below for funder policies.

(iii) Maternity extension would take things beyond what was already an extended end date: this is more difficult and it is likely you will have to ask the department (who may have to consult with HR and RIS) and the question will need to be referred to the funder.

What funders say and what they do. Except where stated explicitly, maternity extensions might be limited to six months.
Funder/scheme Wording (quotes in talics) Action/Example

Allow maternity extension on an individual fellowship, that is where the contract researcher is formally the PI. Check with the funder how long is permitted.

(The Fellowship needs to have been awarded directly and competitively to you by the funder; it is not enough that your job title is Research Fellow.)

RCUK, Royal Society, Warwick IAS Global Research and Marie Curie Fellowships.

Research fellows employed on a RCUK grant (inc EPSRC, STFC, and other UK Research Councils)
RCUK policy

We allow research staff funded for 100% of their contracted time on a grant to take maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave and make provision for additional costs of maternity where appropriate. Research Staff may also be employed on a part time basis.

We allow fellows to take maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave and make provision for additional costs of this leave where appropriate. Fellows are allowed to work on a part time basis.

Staff extensions are given for: maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental or paid sick leave


Statements equivalent to EPSRC.

In practice individual councils limit the total extension any one grant can have.

European Research Council (ERC)

Q: Is it possible to extend an ERC Grant without receiving further funds?

A: In exceptional cases, the ERCEA may prolong the duration of a project.

The extension may be granted in cases of ...parental/maternity leave of the PI in line with the social legislation applicable in the Host country

Late starts or delays of administrative nature (e.g. purchase of equipment, recruitment of staff) are expected to be caught up during the life time of the project. A request for extension can be submitted to the ERCEA only after the approval of the mid-term scientific report and no later than 6 months before the end of the project. Retro-active demands for extension will not be accepted
To extend a project, the ERC Grant Agreement has to be amended. (Article II. 33 (Single) and II.35 (Multi-Beneficiary)) of the General Conditions to ERC Grant Agreement).

Example of a one year extension to an ERC grant including a staff maternity.
Horizon 2020

Leverhulme Trust

Doctoral students are governed by the policies and rules of the institution where they are registered,

but subject to these the Trust allows students to take maternity, paternity, shared parental and
adoption leave. Where appropriate, the Trust will consider requests, on a case by case basis, to pay
for the provision of additional stipend.

The Trust allows Research Assistants to take maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption
leave, subject to their employing institution’s own policies and rules.

Early Career Fellows are entitled to take maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave in
accordance with the terms and conditions of the fellow’s employment.

T&Cs of the Leverhulme Research fellowship scheme : If a Fellow’s personal or academic situation changes during tenure of an award in a way which is likely to affect completion of the research project, and if such changes are likely to last for up to three months, then a grant holder may request that the award be placed in abeyance for a reasonable period. The Chairman of the Advisory Committee will be asked to consider such requests.

Royal Society

The terms of your fellowship make provision to provide you with support in the event that you need to take maternity, paternity, adoptive or extended sick leave.

RCUK PhD studentships

We allow students to take maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave and make provision for additional stipend to be paid where appropriate. Students are also allowed to study on a part-time basis

RCUK funded Research Students can also expect both Maternity Pay and (paid) maternity extension.