Common parental leave questions asked by businesses

Peninsula Team

June 01 2015

Is parental leave the same as the new system of shared parental leave?

The Parental Leave and Shared Parental Leave systems are two distinct ways of booking family leave, even though they have very similar names.

Parental Leave is the system of unpaid leave available to employees with one years’ continuous employment to look after their child’s welfare. This can include needing to take leave to spend time with their child, to settle the child in to new childcare arrangements or to look at new schools etc. The new system of Shared Parental Leave allows eligible employees to share any remaining maternity or adoption leave between them following the birth or adoption of their child.

Can employees take any amount of leave off in a year?

The maximum amount of parental leave is 18 weeks leave for each child, or adopted child, to be taken before the child reaches their 18th birthday. In the absence of any contractual rules about parental leave, the limit on the amount of parental leave to be taken in a year is four weeks leave for each child per year. The four weeks must be taken in periods of whole weeks, unless the child is disabled then the parents can take individual days of leave.

Do parents get a new period of leave whenever they change jobs?

The 18 weeks of parental leave is per child, not per job. Therefore, any periods of parental leave taken in their previous employment will be deducted from the total amount of leave remaining. For example, if an employee has taken four weeks parental leave in their previous job they will only be carry over 14 weeks leave in to their new job, to be taken once the employee becomes eligible.

Can I refuse a parental leave request?

Employees have to give you 21 days’ notice of their intention to take leave, allowing you time to make arrangements for their absence. However, if the leave cannot be accommodated you can delay it so long as there is a significant reason for the delay, for example, the leave will cause significant disruption to your business. Where you are postponing the leave you must explain the postponement to the employee within 7 days of the request and suggest a new start date, but this must be within 6 months of the original date of request.

Leave cannot be postponed if it is being taken by the father/partner immediately after the birth or adoption of a child or if it means that the employee can no longer qualify for the leave, i.e. where it will take the leave past the child’s 18th birthday.

If you need any clarification on this issue then contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.

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