More detail about Parental Leave

Site updated on February 17, 2020

  • Legally, employers are only required to provide unpaid parental leave.Some employers have introduced paid leave, so do check your employment terms.
  • Some employers have devised their own parental leave schemes. If your employer does not have a Scheme you are still entitled to Parental leave under the Governments Model Scheme. This applies to all employees.
  • Where there is no parental leave scheme in force, the Government’s Model Scheme will apply to all employment contracts after 15 December 1999.
  • Any company scheme devised must contain at least the minimum standards required in the model scheme.
  • Parental leave applies to both parents and consists of up to 18 weeks unpaid leave during the period from the child’s birth or adoption until the child’s 18th birthday.
  • If you are part time you still qualify for Parental Leave.
  • Parents of children with a disability can take the leave in single days and not only blocks of one week. Whether or not the child has a disability is determined by whether the family are in receipt of a disability living allowance.
  • Parents wishing to take advantage of their parental leave rights must give their employer at least 21 days notice of the required dates.
  • Employers have the right to postpone the leave if business needs justify this. However there is only one postponement permitted and this can be for no more than six months. Employees may complain to Tribunal if they are dissatisfied with a decision to postpone a parental leave period. ask for help from our Advice Line.
  • The Government have decided, in the model scheme, that the leave must be taken in blocks of a week, i.e. the minimum amount of leave that can be taken at a time for a full time worker would be five days. Even if you only take part of a week, even a single day, this will be counted as one week from your  entitlement. This does not apply to parents of children with a disability. Parents of children with a disability may take the leave in single days.
  • The maximum amount of leave that can be taken within each year is limited to four weeks under the Government’s model scheme. This means that parents who take four individual days off in four or more separate weeks will in fact have taken their full year’s entitlement of four weeks (because the minimum amount of leave that can be taken at any one time counts as a week).
  • There is a right for fathers (which is a form of paternity leave- although this is unpaid), who may take up to four weeks leave immediately after their baby is born (or a child is adopted). Notice of this leave must be provided as soon as possible but must be at least 21 days before the expected week of childbirth or date of adoption. You should note that this element of parental leave cannot be postponed by your employer.
  • You have the right to return to the job you left, or one that is broadly similar. Full employment rights must be preserved whilst parental leave is taken.(Apart from your pay).
  • Both parents are entitled to take parental leave, so even if both individuals work for the same employer, they are both entitled to take this leave.
  • The amount of leave you can take,is “per child” and therefore if twins are born (or adopted) each parent becomes entitled to 36 weeks leave over the 18 year period, all unpaid.
  • In order to agree to your request for parental leave, employers may ask for a sight of the birth certificate, evidence of receipt of disability living allowance or any other appropriate documentation.

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