It can be hard keeping up-to-date with changes to family-friendly entitlements. As an employer, you need to make sure that you are well-informed so that you can plan for any entitled leave and mitigate for any absence. Take a look at our guide below which details key points about parental leave.

1. Complete risk assessments

A risk assessment must be carried out for all pregnant women to see if there are any health and safety hazards posed in their normal role. If hazards are identified, then measures must be taken to eliminate them and, if the employee is unable to perform her usual job, an alternative role must be sought. If there is no alternative work, then the employee must be placed on maternity suspension on full pay.

2. Know their entitlements

The maximum entitlement to paternity leave is two weeks, which must be taken in the eight weeks following the birth or adoption. It cannot be taken as two separate one week blocks so if an employee wants to take one week of leave, they will lose entitlement to the second week. Paternity leave cannot start until the baby is born, whereas maternity leave can start before the birth.

3. ‘Emergency’ leave & dependant’s illness

Employees are entitled to take some time off work to take action necessary where there is an emergency situation in relation to a dependant of theirs. This is commonly seen when an employee’s child is ill and has to stay off nursery or school. There is no prescribed maximum time to be taken in this way, but there is no duty to pay the employee for time taken off in this way. It does not apply to emergency situations not involving a dependant e.g. where there has been a flood at the employee’s home.

4. Leave entitlements after birth

Parents can take up to 18 weeks of parental leave up until their child is 18 years old. This entitlement enables parents to be away from work for the purpose of spending time with their children e.g. going on holiday with them or accompanying them during a planned hospital stay. Leave can be restricted to four weeks per year and employers do not need to pay the employee for this time off.

5. Shared Parental Leave

Parents can now share a year’s worth of leave between them as shared parental leave where a child is born or adopted. The employee must end their maternity/adoption leave first and can then share the remaining leave with their partner. The parents can take periods of leave interspersed with periods when they will return to work, and can take leave at the same time as their partner.