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Overview of the Parental leave policy

This document is GDPR compliant.

Notify staff and managers about the statutory parental leave system with this parental leave policy. Make sure your staff are up-to-date on when parental leave can be taken as well the notification requirements. This parental leave policy covers eligibility, the employer's right to postpone, and what happens when an employee returns to work after leave.


Use this parental leave policy:

  • to inform staff and managers about the statutory parental leave regime

Note that this is not the shared parental leave policy.

This parental leave policy covers:

  • what is parental leave
  • who is eligible for parental leave
  • when parental leave can be taken
  • notification requirements
  • the employer's right to postpone parental leave
  • rights during parental leave
  • returning to work after leave

A parental leave policy notifies staff and managers about the statutory parental leave system. Parental leave is the right for employees with 12 months' continuous service to take up to 18 weeks unpaid leave to care for a child, regardless if they are adopted or birth children. This right is available up until the child's 18th birthday. This is the minimum right permitted by law but can be enhanced. Employees must not be dismissed, subjected to detriment or treated less favourably for taking or requesting parental leave.

A parental leave policy ensures that your staff are up-to-date on when parental leave can be taken as well the notification requirements.

Only employees with parental responsibility can take parental leave. This means they must:

  • be the child's biological parent named on the birth certificate (whether or not living with the child)
  • be the child's adoptive parent named on the adoption certificate, or
  • otherwise have legal parental responsibility for a child under 18 (eg the legal guardian).

By default, leave must be taken in complete weeks (eg 1 week or 2 weeks) and up to four weeks per year may be taken, unless the employer agrees otherwise. Advance notice of 21 days must be given to the employer.

It should always be a person who can be relied on to know or check the legal significance of a parental leave application or other employee queries and to take further action where needed. This will normally be an HR representative, or if there is none, the person with responsibility for HR matters.

By law, parental leave is unpaid. Employers can implement the minimum rights required by law or offer rights over and above what the law requires (eg paying parents during some or all of their parental leave).

Make sure the description regarding any parental leave pay arrangements are clear and unambiguous. If you mean basic pay only then say so. If there are any limits or qualifications then specify these (eg 50% of your normal basic pay for up to two weeks per year).

Normally parental leave is only available to staff with at least 12 months' of continuous service. However employers can extend parental leave to those who aren't eligible by offering rights over and above what the law requires. The parental leave policy should be stated in the staff handbook.

If the child is in receipt of a Disability Living Allowance, the parent is allowed to take parental leave on 'odd' days ie the parent doesn't have to take parental leave in one-week blocks. Some employers will offer better entitlements or benefits than the legal minimum and employees can check this in their staff handbook.

During parental leave the employment contract continues except for pay and benefits.

Ask a lawyer for:

  • changing an existing parental leave policy that is contractually binding
  • where allegations of discrimination are made in connection with a parental leave request

This parental leave policy is governed by the law of England and Wales or the law of Scotland.

Other names for Parental leave policy

Parental leave statement.

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