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What is Parental Leave?

On 5th April there will be some significant changes to Parental Leave for employees. Parental Leave is for parents to take time off work to care for a child, which may include spending more time with a child.

Currently, Parental Leave can be taken up to the child’s fifth birthday or in the case of adopted children the fifth anniversary of their adoption or their 18th birthday, whichever comes first. If your child is disabled you can take the Parental Leave until they are 18 years old.

This leave is unpaid, you have to have been with your employer for more than a year and you have to be named on the child’s birth or adoption certificate. Employers can ask for proof, such as the child’s birth certificate, as long as it’s reasonable to do so.

Leave has to be taken in whole weeks, not a day here or there. And each parent can only take 4 weeks’ leave for each child in a year. A week is defined by the number of days you work over seven days. For example if you work part time and you are in your job for three days out of seven, your leave entitled “week” would be three days. If you work irregular hours, a “week” is the total number of days you work in a year divided by 52.

Parental Leave applies to each child and not your job. So if you’ve changed jobs and taken some leave with the previous employer, then you have to deduct this when you move to the next job. For example: you are entitled to 18 weeks. You’ve used 8 weeks with a previous employer. Now you can use up to 10 weeks with the new employer once you’ve worked there for more than a year.

Employers can make their own Parental Leave procedures but it is an unpaid statutory right so they should have policies in place to allow you to take this leave should you want to do so.

From 5 April 2015, new Regulations will remove the five-year age limit, meaning that you will be able to take ordinary parental leave up until your child’s 18th birthday. This is the same for adoptive parents – you won’t have to take the leave by the fifth year of adoption but can do so up until their 18th birthday.

If you decide to take Parental Leave you have the right to come back to the same position and not suffer any Maternity or Paternity Discrimination in any way. Your employer should treat you the same, keep your duties as they were and make sure that coming back after leave is a smooth process.

Our expert Employment Lawyers can help if you have had any troubles with your employer when it comes to Parental Leave. If you need legal help with any issues you have had please call Slater and Gordon on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online and we will call you back.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers are a leading employment law firm with more than 1,450 staff and 18 offices in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Milton Keynes, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Cambridge, Merseyside, Halifax, Sheffield, Newcastle, Wakefield, Derby and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire and in Hull, Yorkshire.

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