I originally shared this post on my blog a couple of years ago but with the holiday season looming and knowing how many people have no idea that Parental leave even exists, I wanted to share it again.
Not to be confused with ‘Shared Parental Leave, (Ordinary) Parental Leave has gone relatively under the radar and a lot of parent’s aren’t aware of it. I wasn’t until last week and now I’m over the moon about it! Parental Leave is a right to take time off work to look after a child and can be used to spend more time with your little one(s) and strike a better balance between work and family commitments. Some of the reasons you may want to take Parental Leave include:
- you want to take some extra leave after your Maternity or Paternity Leave
- you’d like to spend more time with your child
- settling your child into new childcare arrangements
- looking at new schools
You’re entitled to 18 weeks’ unpaid leave for each child and adopted child, up to their 18th birthday. Unless your employer agrees otherwise, the limit on how much Parental Leave each parent can take in a year is 4 weeks for each child and you must take Parental Leave as whole weeks rather than individual days. (If your child has a disability, you can take the leave in shorter periods than one week).
A ‘week’ is equal to the length of time an employee normally works over 7 days. For example I work 3 days a week, so a ‘week’ of Parental Leave for me is 3 days.
You are eligible for Parental Leave if all of the following apply:
- you have worked for your current employer for at least a year by the time you want to take the leave.
- you are named on the child’s birth or adoption certificate
- you have or expect to have parental responsibility
- you’re not self-employed or a ‘worker’, eg an agency worker or contractor
- you’re not a foster parent (unless you’ve secured parental responsibility through the courts)
- your child is under 18
Notice Period //
You must give 21 days’ notice before your intended start date and unless your employer requests it, this doesn’t have to be in writing.
If your employer feels that the leave would disrupt business too much, or needs more time to arrange suitable cover, they can postpone your leave for up to six months but they must explain why they have postponed your leave within 7 days of the original request and they have to suggest a new start date that must be within 6 months of your requested start date.Your employer cannot postpone your leave if you apply to take some Parental Leave immediately after your baby’s birth, they don’t have a ‘significant reason’ to do so or it means you would no longer qualify for Parental Leave, e.g. postponing it until after your child’s 18th birthday.
What happens if you change jobs? //
Parental Leave applies to your child and is not related to your job, so should you change jobs, it’s up to you to keep a track of how many weeks you have used up and inform your new employer how many weeks you are carrying over from your previous job. Obtaining evidence of a new employee’s Parental Leave record, could be nigh on impossible for a new employer, especially if your child is in their late teens, so the focus will be on you to be honest about how much Parental Leave you have taken with previous employers.If you can afford to utilise Parental Leave, I think it’s a wonderful thing for parents. It allows me to have an extra 36 weeks off with Jack and Phoebe until they reach 18 and I’m sure it will come in incredibly handy during those long summer holidays. Although it is usually unpaid, it might be worth asking your employer if they offer paid Parental Leave as suprisingly some employers do, so check your employment contract and keep your fingers crossed!
This information is subject to change and has been written as a result of my own research at the time of writing. For more information check out https://www.gov.uk/parental-leave/overview