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Taking parental leave

Those who have a child aged under 18 must be the parent:

  • named on the child's birth certificate
  • named on the child's adoption certificate
  • with legal parental responsibility for a child under 18.

If employees are separated or don't live with the child, they have the right to parental leave if they keep formal parental responsibility for the child.

Parental leave should only be taken to care for the welfare of a child, for example an employee may wish to take leave to:

  • stay with a child who is in hospital
  • spend more time with a child
  • make school/childcare arrangements and to help them settle in.

An employer can only postpone parental leave if they have a good business reason for doing so, for example seasonal production, another member of staff is off or the staff absence would harm the business. Parental leave can be postponed for up to 6 months but can not be postponed so that the leave ends after the child's 18th birthday. If an employee does not qualify for parental leave, then the employer may offer contractual parental leave which may be offered to all staff.

Alternately annual leave or unpaid leave may be taken if an employee gets a new job they can carry over the untaken parental leave, but not until they have been with the new employer for a year.

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