Parental leave is often used as a loose term to cover a wide range of family-friendly employment rights. However it has a specific legal meaning.

A parent, or someone with caring responsibility for a child, can seek a period of parental leave from their employer. The rights apply to adoptive parents too. Parental leave is unpaid leave (unless the employer allows for paid leave) and its purpose must be the care of the child.

Parents have the right to take up to 18 weeks parental leave before their child’s 5th birthday, or fifth anniversary of adoption. Parents of disabled children may take the leave up to their child’s 18th birthday.

The employee must give proper notice of the request. An employer can postpone the request for up to six months on business grounds.

Employees can take up to four weeks per year out of the 18 week entitlement as parental leave unless their employer agrees a longer period.

Dave, who has been working for his employer for a year, is aware that his son is starting school at age 4 in September and believes that he will need time to settle in. Dave requests that his employer grants him unpaid parental leave of 4 weeks so that he can take his son to school each day over this period.

As to parental leave generally, see our fact sheet here.

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Updates: For employers: Family rights and flexible working | Holiday and working time | For employees: Family rights and flexible working | Holiday |
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Other employment law terms

  1. ACAS Early Conciliation
  2. Adoption appointments
  3. Adoption leave
  4. Alternative dispute resolution
  5. Ante-natal care
  6. Apprenticeship
  7. Basic award
  8. Collective consultation
  9. Compensatory award
  10. Compromise agreement
  11. Constructive dismissal
  12. Contract of employment
  13. Disciplinary hearing
  14. Discrimination
  15. Employee shareholder
  16. Employment tribunal
  17. ETO reason
  18. Flexible working requests
  19. Grievance
  20. Gross misconduct
  21. Harassment
  22. Industrial action
  23. Injury to feelings
  24. Maternity and parental rights
  25. Maternity leave
  26. Maternity pay
  27. Mediation
  28. Paternity leave and pay
  29. Polkey deduction
  30. Pre-termination negotiations
  31. Protected characteristics
  32. Redundancy
  33. Restrictive covenants
  34. Settlement agreement
  35. Shared parental leave
  36. Staff handbook
  37. Statutory annual leave
  38. Strikes
  39. Study and training rights
  40. Summary dismissal
  41. Sunday working
  42. Trade union
  43. TUPE
  44. Unfair dismissal
  45. Unlawful deductions
  46. Victimisation
  47. Whistle-blowing
  48. Without prejudice
  49. Working Time Regulations
  50. Written particulars
  51. Wrongful dismissal
  52. Zero hours contracts