University of the Arts London (UAL) has announced that it will offer 26 weeks of maternity and paternity leave at full pay from 1 October as part of an improvement to its parental leave terms and conditions.
Previously, UAL offered four weeks at full pay for maternity leave and one week at full pay for paternity and partner leave.
The policy will be available to all directly employed staff and hourly paid lecturers, whether they are biological birth parents, people with responsibility for care at the time of birth or adoption, and whether they are female, male, trans or non-binary, same sex couples or those with surrogacy arrangements.
However, the policy will not apply to cleaning, catering, security, and maintenance staff outsourced to private suppliers, UAL Short Courses staff or employees working for other UAL subsidiaries.
Clive Smith, regional organiser for trade union GMB, said: “Members at the UAL will see a significant gain in their work-life balance at an important life stage, as they welcome a new child into the family. This is a great victory by the GMB and sister trade unions who have campaigned on this issue with tenacity and determination. I’m sure that the university have recognised the positive impact on retention of skilled, experienced staff that this change will promote.”
Alex Brent, branch secretary at GMB, added: “This victory is the result of hard-fought and long-term campaigning from trade unions at UAL. It would not be possible without the support from members and activists in calling for improvements for what was an atrocious and unfair deal for all staff.
“However, I am disappointed that the policy does not extend to our outsourced members. We will continue to fight to end outsourcing at the University, so that the parental leave policy, as with other terms and conditions of employment, can be enjoyed by all UAL workers equally.”
UAL has been contacted for comment.