An employee who is a natural or adoptive parent and who has a minimum of one year’s continuous service is entitled to up to 18 weeks parental leave ‘to enable him or her to take care of the child’. There is no statutory obligation to provide pay during parental leave although employers can pay for all or part of the leave if they wish. Both parents qualify for parental leave but the leave must be taken before the child is 8 years of age. There are exceptions to this maximum age requirement; in the case of an adopted child aged between 6 and 8 years of age when the adoption order is made, the leave must be taken within two years of the date of the adoption order, and in the case of a child with a disability or long term illness the leave may be taken right up until the child has reached 16 years of age.
If the parent has completed less than one year’s continuous service by the last day for commencing parental leave but has completed three month’s service, the parent can take one week’s parental leave for each complete month of service prior to the leave.