Parental leave is the right to take up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a child before the child’s 18th birthday. This is the minimum right permitted by law but can be enhanced. Parental leave is available to employees with 12 months’ service.
By default, leave must be taken in whole weeks and only up to 4 weeks a year may be taken per child. If the child is disabled the leave doesn't need to be taken in whole weeks.
Parents should give employers 21 days’ advance notice before the intended leave start date. Employees must confirm the start and end dates in their notice. Unless an employer requests it, this notice does not have to be in writing.
During parental leave, the Employment contract continues except for pay and benefits. Employees must not be dismissed or subjected to detriment for taking or requesting parental leave or this can lead to discrimination claims.
Employers may choose to enhance parental leave rights or can make certain changes to the default statutory scheme through a workplace or collective agreement (eg by paying during leave or extending the right to employees with less than 12 months' service).
A Parental leave policy that explains the process within your business can help ensure obligations are met and rights are upheld.