From time to time, your employees may have to take time off to look after their children.
Parental leave can benefit your workforce, as it can improve employee wellbeing and morale.
Parental leave should be handled like any other type of leave, so it’s important to follow the legal steps. If mistreated or the wrong amount of time off is given, you may be handed a hefty fine or discrimination claims could be made against you.
In this guide, we’ll explain what parental leave is, how it works, and what steps are needed to keep you in line with the law.
What is Parental Leave?
Parental leave is a legal right for parents to take time off to look after their children. Time off can be taken for children up to the age of 18.
Employees are entitled to 18 weeks’ leave for each child. This can be used all at once or spread over a certain time period. The maximum entitlement is up to 4 weeks per year.
Reasons for Taking Parental Leave
There are many reasons why employees might request parental leave. For example, they could:
- Accompany a child during a hospital stay.
- Find new schools for a child.
- Help child settle into new childcare arrangements.
If your employee needs to take leave, you should consider parental leave cover. This will enable you to be more organised and continue the output of your work.
Cover should be arranged as soon as soon as you know your employee is taking leave.
To stay organised, you should:
- Establish if cover can be sourced internally through existing staff.
- If work can be distributed throughout your team.
- Consider training an employee to take over the role.
- Be aware of the employee’s right to return to work.
Who is Eligible for Parental Leave?
There are certain requirements employees need to become eligible for parental leave.
- They need to be classed as an employee.
- They need to be in your employment for more than a year.
What are the Legal Rules on Parental Leave?
Under the Parental Leave Regulations 2013, employers must give their staff time off for parental leave.
As an employer, you have the right to adopt a flexible parental leave policy that works for you and the business. This is as long as the minimum requirements are met.
It’s important to note that employees in a same-sex relationship must receive the exact same rights as those in heterosexual relationships.
Parental leave rights should be clearly stated in your company’s policy or employee’s contract.
It is against the law for you to dismiss or unfairly treat your employee just because they have asked for parental leave.
Is parental leave paid?
Parental leave is usually unpaid. However, you should still refer to what has been agreed in the employee’s contract.
You can also refer to your company’s handbook and leave policies.
Unpaid parental leave is subject to your company and whether the employee might be eligible for payment.
What is Shared Parental Leave?
Shared parental leave allows parents to balance both their work and family life.
Shared parental leave allows two people to take leave instead of one for parental leave.
An employee may be entitled to shared parental leave for a number of reasons. Here are some examples of shared parental leave:
- They are expecting a baby.
- They are using a surrogate for a baby.
- They are adopting a child.
This can be up to 50 weeks and up to 37 weeks paid parental leave.
Ensure parental leave payments are made up to 37 weeks or you could face disciplinary action.
Managing Parental Leave
To class as a parent, your employee must be named on one of the following:
- The child’s birth certificate.
- The child’s adoption certificate.
- On a legal guardianship.
Employees aren’t required to fill out an official parental leave application.
Instead, they should request it 21 days before the date of their leave via an email or through a meeting.
Get Advice on Parental Leave with BrightHR
Every employee has the right to ask for parental leave. Mistreating or even dismissing an employee over parental leave could leave you with expensive fines to pay.
BrightHR can help you understand parental leave and prepare you for any unexpected obstacles in your way.
If you need any assistance on parental leave don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experts.