Parental leave is designed to give parents time to care for a young child or a child with a disability or to make arrangements for their welfare.
Who is entitled to parental leave?
Any parent who has completed one year's service with their current employer is entitled to 13 weeks' unpaid parental leave for each child born or adopted. It may be taken at any time up to the child's fifth birthday. Parents of disabled children can take 18 weeks' unpaid leave up to the child's 18th birthday.
For the purposes of parental leave, "parent" covers parents, carers with "parental responsibility" and fathers who are registered on the birth certificate. Unmarried fathers will have parental responsibility if it's been granted by the mother or a court. Adoptive parents will get parental responsibility as soon as a child is placed with them. It is also possible for same-sex partners to get parental responsibility through legal proceedings.
When can it start?
The leave can start once the child is born or placed for adoption with the employee, or as soon as the employee has completed a year's service.
How do I arrange time off?
A structure will probably exist in your organisation to cover these regulations. Either speak to HR or check your employment contract for specific details.
Will taking parental leave affect my current job?
Employees remain employed while on parental leave and some terms of their contract, such as contractual notice and redundancy terms, still apply.
At the end of parental leave, employees have the right to return to the same job as before or, if that is not practicable, a similar job which has the same or better status as the old job. If the leave is taken for a period of four weeks or less, the employee is entitled to return to the same job.
Can I take my parental leave all at once?
Guidance from the Department for Business Innovation & Skills states that employees can take parental leave in short or long blocks. In practice, this will depend on the discretion of the employer.
Can I use parental leave for emergencies, for instance, if my child is sick?
It depends on the agreement you have with your employer. You will usually require a certain notice period to take your leave.
My employer isn't keen on me taking parental leave. Who can help?
Employees are protected from dismissal or detrimental treatment for taking (or seeking to take) parental leave. If your employer prevents you from taking parental leave, you can complain to an Employment Tribunal, but make sure you have taken specific legal advice.
What if I need time off for my older children in an emergency?
All employees have the right to take a reasonable period off work to deal with an emergency problem involving a dependent such as a child, partner or parent. There is no set time allowed for this, although your employee handbook may state some guidelines.
Where does paternity leave fit in?
Paternity leave will not disappear and the rules remain in force. But, in practice, requests for paternity leave are diminishing as parental leave regulations expand.