The Employment Rights Act 1999 makes regulations entitling an employee who
satisfies certain conditions to take parental leave “for the purpose
of caring for the child”. There is no legal requirement on employers
to keep records nor are employers required to pay employees on parental leave.
Whether male or female, if an employee has worked for an employer continuously
for a year and has responsibility for a child, he or she is entitled to 13
weeks' parental leave for each of child born or adopted provided that he or
- is the parent (named on the birth certificate) of a child born on
or after 15 December 1999 who is under five years old;
- has adopted, on or after 15th December 1999, a child under the age
of 18 (this right lasts for five years from the date on which the
child is placed
for adoption or until the child’s 18th birthday, whichever is the
- has, under the Children Act 1989 or the Children (Scotland)
Act 199, acquired formal parental responsibility for a child born on
or after 15th December
1999 who is under five years old.
This leave is unpaid and must be taken by the time the child reaches the age
of 5. If the child is adopted, then Parental Leave must be taken by the 5th
anniversary of the adoption or when the child reaches the age of 18, whichever
is the earlier.
If the employee works part-time, a week's Parental Leave will correspond with
the number of days/hours which he or she normally works in a week. If he or
she works irregular hours, a week for the purposes of Parental Leave will be
the average number of hours worked per week in the preceding 52 weeks.
KEY ELEMENTS OF THE SCHEME
Key Elements of Parental Leave Scheme
The key elements of the parental leave scheme which cannot
be excluded by a collective or workforce agreement are:
- the amount of parental
leave. This must be of at least 13
weeks for each child born on or after 15th December 1999 who is under the
age of 5;
- the employee’s right to remain employed during the parental
leave period, but without pay. The employer will remain bound by his implied
obligation of trust and confidence during parental leave;
- the employee’s
entitlement to return to his or her old job after parental leave or, if that
is not possible, to a job which
is both suitable
and appropriate and which has the same (or better) status, terms and conditions
as the old job;
- the preservation of the employee’s seniority,
pension rights and similar rights as they would have been if his or her employment
taking parental leave had been parental leave had been continuous with his
or her employment following the return to work.
RIGHT TO RETURN
An employee is entitled after a continuous period of Parental Leave which
is 4 weeks or less in length to return to the same job which he or she carried
out prior to his or her absence.
Women who take Parental Leave of 4 weeks or less immediately after Additional
Maternity Leave do not have an automatic right to return to exactly the same
job if that is not reasonably practicable at the end of the Additional Maternity
Leave and is still not practicable at the end of the Parental Leave. Instead,
she is entitled to another job which is suitable and appropriate in all the
circumstances. If Parental Leave of 4 weeks or less is taken immediately after
Ordinary Maternity Leave then she is entitled to return to the same job.
If, by agreement, an employee takes more than 4 continuous weeks' Parental
Leave, he or she is entitled to return to the same job unless it is not reasonably
practicable to permit such return. In such a case he or she will be permitted
to return to another job which is both suitable and appropriate in the circumstances.
An employee is entitled after one year's continuous service to a total of
13 weeks' Parental Leave for each child born or adopted on or after 15 December
1999 notwithstanding any change in his or her employer. This means that he
or she does not accrue another 13 weeks' Parental Leave if he or she changes
employer. When an employee has completed a year with a new employer, he or
she will be entitled to take any remaining Parental Leave. An employee is not
entitled to 13 weeks from each new employer.
An employer may request confirmation from an employee of the amount of Parental
Leave which he or she has taken prior to or upon your joining the employer.
Employers will usually keep a record of the Parental Leave which an employee
has taken and will usually pass on this information to any prospective employer
on request. It is advised that employees also keep a record for their own purposes.
PARENTAL LEAVE SCHEME
Parental Leave must be taken in minimum blocks of one week. This means that
if an employee takes any period of leave which is less than a week it will
still count as one week out of his or her 13 week entitlement.
An employee may take a maximum of 4 weeks' Parental Leave in any year. A year
for these purposes commences on the child's birthday.
An employee must, when requested, provide proof of his or her entitlement
to Parental Leave. This may include evidence of his or her responsibility for
the child, the child’s date of birth or details of the adoption process.
Failure to comply with this request could result in the loss of entitlement
to Parental Leave.
A request to take Parental Leave must be made at least 21 days prior to the
proposed period of leave.
If an employee does not give the requisite notice or the employer genuinely
feels that the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted, the request
for Parental Leave may be postponed. If so, the employee should be given notice
in writing within 7 days of his or her request, advising of the reasons for
the postponement and the date on which the Parental Leave may be taken instead.
Any postponement may not exceed 6 months. If a postponement takes you past
the child's 5th Birthday or 5th anniversary of adoption the employee will still
be entitled to take the postponed leave as soon after the Birthday or anniversary
There are two exceptions to the requirement to give 21 days' notice of any
Parental Leave and in both cases if the requirements have been complied with
the Leave cannot be postponed.
1. If the employee is the father of a child and intends
to take a period of Parental Leave when the child is born, he must, at least
21 days before the
beginning of the Expected Week of Childbirth:-
a) give notice to his employer
of the Expected Week of Childbirth; and
b) the duration of the leave.
2. Where the leave relates to a child that is being adopted and the leave
is due to begin on the date of the adoption, the employee must, at least 21
days before the beginning of the week of the adoption, or if this is not practicable,
as soon as is reasonably practicable:-
a) give notice to the employer of the expected week of the adoption; and
b) the duration of the leave.