Skip to main content

Parental Leave and Pay

This employment guide is a summary of your employees’ rights to parental leave and pay.

Introduction

Parental leave is available to birth and adoptive parents and also to anyone who has, or expects to have, parental responsibility for a child. It is a right to take time off work to look after a child or to make arrangements for a child’s welfare.

Parental leave

Examples of reasons for parents wanting to take parental leave may include simply to spend more time with their children or to be there after the birth/adoption of their baby/child; looking for a new school; or settling a child into new child care.

Employees have no rights to pay during parental leave.

The right to parental leave applies to mothers and fathers or those with parental responsibility as defined under the Children’s Act 1999. The child in question does not have to reside with the parent in order for the parent to take parental leave.

To qualify for this leave, your employee must have been working for you for at least one year. Parents can take this leave up to the children’s 18th birthday or the 18th anniversary of adoption.

Up to four weeks leave per year, per child, can be taken up to a maximum total of 18 weeks per child, unless you agree otherwise.

Your employee must take parental leave as whole weeks (eg 1 week or 2 weeks) rather than individual days, unless you agree otherwise or if the child is disabled. A ‘week’ equals the length of time an employee normally works over 7 days.

Parental leave can be taken immediately after maternity leave.

To qualify for parental leave an employee must have been continuously employed by you for a period of not less than one year and have, or expect to have, responsibility for a child for which the parental leave is being requested.

Employees must give you 21 days notice of their intention to take parental leave. You can postpone the leave in some circumstances:

  • If it will unduly disrupt the business.
  • If other employees have asked for parental leave in the same period.
  • If the employee’s role is such that his/her absence would unduly harm the business.

Postponement can be for a maximum of six months. Parental leave cannot be postponed immediately after birth or adoption.

As an employer, you can ask for evidence that the employee is entitled to parental leave - it is not expected that you would ask for evidence at each and every occasion.

Employees should not lose any entitlement to contractual benefits due to taking parental leave.

The parental leave year is calculated from the date the employee became entitled. This may be different from the employee’s annual leave year or start date anniversary.

Parental leave should be only used for the purposes of caring for a child. If parental leave is used for purposes other than caring for a child then the employee could be seen to have acted dishonestly and your usual disciplinary procedures could apply.

You do not need to keep records of parental leave taken but it may be good practice to do so.

Getting it right

The rules surrounding parental leave are extremely complex. The costs of failing to meet your obligations can be high – as can the potential damage to the reputation of your business.

HR:4UK can provide you with the advice and support you need to meet the legal requirements.

For further help and advice, speak to one of our advisors by calling 01455 444222 or complete our online enquiry click here and an advisor will contact you shortly.