Parental Leave

Parental leave is the right to take time off to look after a child or make arrangements for the child's welfare.

The right to parental leave entitles all eligible employees who have completed one year’s qualifying service to take a period of unpaid leave to care for each child born or adopted on or after 15 December 1994 (on or after 15 December 1981 in the case of a disabled child). The right applies to mothers and fathers and to a person who has obtained formal parental responsibility for a child under the Children Act or its Scottish equivalent. Parents are able to start taking parental leave as soon as the child is born or placed for adoption, or as soon as they have completed the required one year's qualifying service with their employer, whichever is later.

Changes to the right were introduced on 10 January 2002, which benefit parents of disabled children and parents of children aged under 5 on 15 December 1999 (the date the right was first introduced).

If you are an employer you may also wish to visit the Business Link website, which provides practical advice for business.

If you are an employee please refer to the Directgov website which has information on all employment rights including work and families.

If you require further help Acas produce a number of useful guidance publications for both employers and employees.  Acas also operate a helpline to answer employment questions: 08457 47 47 47 (open from 08.00 – 18.00 Monday to Friday).

Links to these and other useful sources of information and guidance can be found on the right hand side of this page.

Employment advisors and practitioners will find our summary guidance 'Parental leave: A guide for employers and employees' helpful.