Parental leave

Ordinary Parental leave is for employees to take time off work to look after a child’s welfare, this leave is normally unpaid, and is now available for each child up to their 18th birthday. This means that parents previously ineligible for leave, with children over five, are now eligible.

Ordinary Parental Leave – Key Points

• Employees must have completed one year’s continuous service with an employer to qualify.
• 18 weeks of unpaid leave can be taken up for children under 18 years.
• Leave must be taken in full leave blocks unless otherwise agreed or your child is disabled.
• A maximum of 4 weeks per year may be taken, unless otherwise agreed by the employer.
• Leave may be taken straight after the birth or adoption or following a period of maternity leave.
• Employees will need to request leave giving at least 21 days’ notice before the intended start date.
• Employers may ask for the notice to be in writing.

Keeping track of employees’ entitlements

Now that employees have up to the child’s 18th birthday to take their entitlement, keeping track of how much leave an employee has already taken might become more of an issue for employers.

To know how much ordinary parental leave an employee can take, the employer needs to know how much he or she has already taken with previous employers. There is no duty on employers to keep records of this, or to provide this information if requested by a subsequent employer; however, we would suggest that it is a question posed when requesting a reference.

Obtaining evidence of an employee’s parental leave record, which could go back almost 18 years, will be impossible in many cases, so employers will have to trust their employees to be honest about how much ordinary parental leave they have taken with previous employers.

However, given that ordinary parental leave is unpaid and cannot be taken in the first year of employment with a new employer, it is unlikely that this will be an issue that will cause too many problems for employers.

Ordinary Parental Leave should not be confused with Shared Parental Leave – further details on SPL can be found here.

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