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.

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