Research leave policy puts LSE ahead of its peers

LSE offers a generous maternity package to mothers, an onsite creche and childcare vouchers, but its offering to fathers is what puts it head and shoulders ahead of its peers and is what has seen it win the Best for Dads Top Employer Award for the third consecutive year.

Dads can take up to 26 weeks of Additional Paternity Leave if the mother chooses to return to work early, which is usually paid at the statutory rate. However, LSE offers up to 16 weeks of Additional Paternity Leave at full pay.  LSE will also offer 16 weeks full pay for dads taking shared parental leave when it comes in in April and says it is modelling its approach to SPL on its experience with APL and on its innovative research leave policy. This allows any academic who has been absent for more than 18 weeks a teaching-free term on full pay to catch up on research. Most returning parents can opt for a phased return to work using their accrued annual leave.

Gail Keeley, HR Manager, Policy and Employment Relations, says: “The research leave policy was part of a collective agreement on a new academic structure introduced to improve the recruitment, mentoring, review and remuneration of career academic staff.  It was recognised that having a significant break does have an impact on career progression.” The Research Leave document, for instance, says: ‘The purpose of research leave is for Academic Staff members to re-establish their research trajectory following a long period of absence.’

The LSE ensures that APL does not affect career progression, a potential hurdle to dads taking the leave. For instance, the impact of APL in terms of research output which is taken into consideration as part of probationary periods and promotion of academic employees. The same will apply to academic employees who take SPL from April 2015.

Keeley adds: “Those academic employees who have taken advantage of APL have all taken a term’s research leave and I think this shows that when employers think creatively about the steps to improve career prospects, employees appreciate the opportunity to share ‘bringing up baby’ without the risk of ‘suspending’ their careers.”

New dad workshops

Other benefits offered to parents include workshops for new dads on issues such as negotiating flexible working introduced by the second most senior manager at the LSE and workshops for mums which are offered to women even if they are not LSE employees in recognition that they help support dads who are LSE employees.  Other workshops held in the past include positive parenting and balancing work and being the carer of an adult. LSE is also holding a new workshop on ’Building Resilience in Our Primary School-Age Children and Ourselves” to help parents to prepare for the first years at school. In addition, there is a mentoring scheme for parents, a network for carers, a Working Parents’ Network Yammer group and a Network for Carers of Adults Yammer group.

LSE was also involved in research which spun out of the 2012 Happy Homes, Productive Workplaces report conducted by Working Families and OnePlusOne. The project focuses on how organisations which promote family friendly policies aimed at lessening stress can reap the rewards in terms of increased commitment and productivity.  LSE will participate in the follow-up on this research to increase awareness on how relationship quality can have a positive impact on productivity and the workplace. The follow-up will address the employee life cycle and individual life transitions, such as having your first child and caring for an ill relative.

Keeley says awards are “very important” in promoting LSE as a good employer and being a family friendly employer is one of the four ‘brand pillars’ on the front page of their jobs page. She adds: “The LSE was founded in 1895 for “the betterment of society’, recognising that family life in society has changed/is changing and enabling fathers to be more involved in raising their children is in line with the founding principle of the LSE.”


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