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Your right to parental leave

If you have at least one year's continuous service with your employer and are responsible for a child aged under 18, you are entitled to 18 weeks' (unpaid) leave per child to look after them.

This information applies to people living in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Parental leave photo 1517554558809 9b4971b38f39 Unsplash for web

To qualify for parental leave, you must be a parent (named on the birth certificate), adoptive parent, or have acquired legal parental responsibility for the child.

How can I take parental leave?

Leave can be taken in blocks of a week (and usually up to four weeks in a year), or blocks of a day if the leave is to care for a disabled child (again, usually up to a maximum of four weeks a year). Collective or workforce agreements may allow employees to take more than four weeks off in a year.

You must give at least 21 days' notice to your employer in order to take parental leave and the leave must be taken by your child's 18th birthday. 

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Can my employer postpone my parental leave?

Parental leave can be postponed by employers if taking leave at the time requested would cause particular disruption to the organisation. For example, this would be during a seasonal peak in work or if multiple requests for parental leave are made at the same time.

If your leave is postponed, your employer must inform you within seven days of your request for leave being made, and your leave must be granted within six months.

Your parental leave cannot be postponed if it has been requested for the time immediately after the birth of a child or the start of an adoption placement.

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What is Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave?

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 is a law that came into force in April 2020. This law gives all employed parents a day-one statutory right to two weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy on or after 6 April 2020. You can read more about this on the ACAS website here.

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