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The 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 your child

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

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 (but see below).

The leave must be taken by the 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, eg during a seasonal peak in work or if multiple requests for parental leave are made at the same time.

If leave is postponed, employers must inform the employee within seven days of the request for leave being made, and the leave must be granted within six months.

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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