Parental leave
Parental leave

The following Employment guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Parental leave
  • Entitlement
  • The default statutory scheme
  • Amount of leave
  • Giving notice and postponement of leave
  • Rights during parental leave
  • Right to return
  • Protection against detriment
  • Protection against dismissal

Parents of a child (whether born to the parents or adopted) are entitled to take up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave to care for that child at any time before the child's 18th birthday.

18 weeks' leave may be taken in respect of each child. The leave may be taken by each parent. So, for example, where a mother and father both have responsibility for the twins, each of them is entitled to 36 weeks of leave to care for the two children.

Since 5 April 2015, parental leave may be taken at any time before the child's 18th birthday, irrespective of whether the child was born to the parents or adopted.

Prior to that date:

  1. in the case of a child born to its parents, parental leave could not be taken on or after the child's 5th birthday (or, in the case of a child who is entitled to a disability living allowance, parental leave could not be taken on or after the child's 18th birthday)

  2. in the case of adoption, leave could be taken at any time in the first five years after the child was placed with its adoptive parents, but the right ended when the child reached 18, even if that was before the five years were up

Because use of the overall 18-week entitlement to take parental leave may