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Changes to parental leave postponed until 2013

Working parents will now have to wait until 2013 for the extension of parental leave to 18 weeks as the Government secures a one-year postponement of the new Parental Leave Directive.

The European Council Directive, which comes into force on March 8, 2012, will give each parent of a child under the age of five the right to take up to 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave. This will mean an extension of five weeks from the current 13-week entitlement.

However, the Government has asked for a year's 'grace' period to accommodate ongoing work to address flexible working policies and parental leave provision as part of the Modern Workplaces initiative, meaning that the directive will now come into force in the UK in March, 2013.

At the moment, parents of a child under the age of five each have the legal right to take up to 13 weeks' unpaid parental leave until the child's fifth birthday, with adoptive parents entitled to 13 weeks' unpaid parental leave until the fifth anniversary of the adoption, or until the child's 18thbirthday, whichever comes first.

Parents or adoptive parents of disabled children are entitled to up to 18 weeks' parental leave each until the child's 18thbirthday. The entitlement applies to each individual child, and to qualify for parental leave, the parent must have been employed continuously for at least one year.

Acas training provides a comprehensive overview of parental leave and provides practical advice on implementing family-friendly policies. Visit the Acas training and business solutions area for more information.

Visit the Acas training and business solutions area for more information.

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