FAQs: Parental leave

Who is entitled to parental leave?

An employee will qualify for statutory unpaid parental leave if their child is under five years of age, and they have worked for their employer for at least one year continuously. Additionally, they must be named as a parent on the child’s birth or adoption certificate, and have legal parental responsibility. Separated or divorced parents may take parental leave, providing their parental responsibility remains intact.  An employer is entitled to see a copy of the child’s birth certificate or confirmation of adoption, as evidence for the request.

How much parental leave can I take?

Parents may each take up to 13 weeks off work until their child is five years old. Adoptive parents can take up to 13 weeks' parental leave before the fifth anniversary of the child’s placement, or up to the child’s 18th birthday, whichever comes first. In all cases, it is not possible to transfer any amount of parental leave between parents.

How much parental leave can I take if I have a disabled child?

Parents of disabled children may take up to 18 weeks of statutory unpaid parental leave, until their disabled child’s 18th birthday. Your employer may ask for proof that you are entitled to parental leave, such as a copy of the disability living allowance award for your child.

What about my job while I am on parental leave?

Employees have the right to return to the same job they held before parental leave. If this is not possible, they should be given a comparable job, with the same status, terms and conditions. If a parent only takes four weeks of parental leave or less, they are entitled to return to exactly the same job. Some employment contracts may offer more generous terms as regards parental leave, conversely, some employers may try to prevent employees exercising their statutory right. If negotiation with your employer does not resolve the situation, you can consult an employment solicitor about making an employment tribunal claim.

What is time off for dependants?

If an employee does not qualify for parental leave, perhaps if they are a grandparent, they will have the right to take at least one or two days’ unpaid leave to deal with emergencies involving a child they care for. Time off for dependants will apply regardless of how long someone has worked for their employer.

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