Parental Leave for employees

Women who do not qualify for the new extended rights of Additional Maternity Leave can still qualify for Parental Leave if they have completed one years' service with their employer. Some Parental Leave can also be taken straight after Maternity Leave or Adoption Leave.

The employee's right to take parental leave will last until the child's fifth birthday, or if the child is adopted; until five years following placement for adoption. In these cases, the employee must have completed one year's continuous service with the employer.

Employees with disabled children can take 18 weeks parental leave for each disabled child entitled to disability living allowance, up until their child's 18th birthday.

The right also applies to mothers and fathers who have obtained formal parental responsibility for a child under the Children Act, please see the Children section.

Please note that the 18 weeks entitlement is per child.

An employee has the right to return to the same job if they take a period of only four weeks or less, off. But, if they take more than four weeks they have the right to return to a similar job, if not the same job.

The government has left it up to employers and employees to decide in each workplace how Parental Leave will work. If they cannot agree, or it is not dealt with in the contract of employment, then the fall-back scheme under the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 will apply. This states:

1. Leave may only be taken in blocks or multiples of one week, (except in the case of a disabled child).

2. The employee must agree the period and time for taking the leave with the employer and must give the employer 21 day's notice before taking parental leave. The notice from the employee must state the start and end date of the proposed parental leave period. (The employer reserves the right to postpone an employee's parental leave for up to six months where the employer's business would otherwise be unable to cope).

3. Parental leave cannot be postponed when an employee gives notice to take leave immediately after a child is born or is placed with the family for adoption.

4. Employees with disabled children can take parental leave one day at a time or for longer periods if required.

5. The employee may only take a maximum of 4 weeks leave in any 12 month period for each relevant child.

6. The employee's period of leave taken with a previous employer will be taken into account when calculating their total entitlement.

7. An employer may request from the employee proof of their responsibility for the relevant child together with a copy of the child's birth certificate, proof of adoption or the child's entitlement to disability living allowance as the case may be.

8. The employee remains employed while on parental leave and certain terms of employment remain in force, they are:

i) Implied obligation of trust and confidence.

ii) Notice of termination.

iii) Disciplinary and grievance procedures.

iv) Non-disclosure of confidential information.

v) Non-participation in any other business.

vi) Compensation in the event of redundancy.

An employee who takes parental leave for four weeks or less, (excluding such leave taken immediately after additional maternity leave) may return from leave to the job in which he or she was employed before taking leave. This will entitle the employee to the same terms and conditions of employment previously enjoyed.

If an employee is prevented from taking Parental Leave or is dismissed or victimised for taking Parental Leave, they may complain to an Employment Tribunal.
Please also see Shared Parental Leave

Right to Return to Work after Maternity Leave

Employment Law