Researchers taking leave: a guide on what to do

A step-by-step guide for researchers on to what to do if you need to take a period of leave due to pregnancy, adoption, surrogacy or mental or physical illness.

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What should you do if you need to take a period of leave during your due to pregnancy, adoption or illness?

1. Speak to the HR department and supervisor at your University. 

They will be able to tell you what you are entitled to. As an Alzheimer's Society funded Ph.D. student you will be entitled to family or sick leave and pay.

To organise leave during your Ph.D. you will need to apply by speaking to your HR department and supervisor to request to suspend your studies. This usually means that you won't need to pay any fees during your leave. If you are a post-doctoral researcher your HR department and line manager will be able to put this process in place.

In general, as a full-time contracted employee of a university or research institute, you will be entitled to family and sick leave and pay. This is dependant on the end of your contract being further away than the predicted end of your period of leave.

Maternity leave and pay 

In the UK you are entitled to up to 12 months maternity leave, with the first six weeks paid at 90% of your current salary and £145.18 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks. 

Paternity/adoption/surrogacy leave and pay

You may be entitled to 1-2 weeks paid leave. Your pay during this time will be either 90% of your current weekly salary or £145.18 (whichever is lower). Check your eligibility.

Sick leave and pay

If you are unable to work due to physical or mental health issues you have the option of applying for sick leave and pay, find out what you are entitled to.

2. Check with your funding body. 

Speak to our grants team to let us know that you will be taking a period of leave from your Ph.D., post-doc, fellowship or project grant and we'll sort out the rest to support you until your return to research. We will also be able to tell you whether you are entitled to a research assistant to cover the period of leave or to receive a no-cost extension of your grant.

If you are a Ph.D. student who is not funded by the Society your funder may view you as ineligible for Statutory Maternity Pay as Ph.D. students are rarely given full employee rights. In this case, it is still worth checking with your university as they may have their own programmes in place to help to support you. 

If you have contributed to national insurance for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before your baby is born, you may be entitled to Maternity Allowance.

3. Be aware that you may need to give notice of when you plan to return.

At the Society, seven working days notice ahead of your return is sufficient for us to put you back on our records. You may need to give your university or research institute a month or more of notice, it is important that you confirm this with them ahead of time. Citizens Advice have further information on this.

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