Parental leave is the right for employees with 12 months’ service 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.
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 advance notice of 21 days 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.
Information provided as a part of the request must be processed in accordance with your Data protection policy and employee privacy notice - a statement describing how you collect, use, retain and disclose personal information.
Employers may choose to enhance parental leave rights or can make certain changes to the default statutory scheme through workplace or collective agreements (eg by paying during leave or extending the right to employees with less than 12 months' service).
A Parental leave policy which explains the process within your company can help ensure obligations are met and rights are upheld.