Parental Leave

Parental leave has been in existence since 1999 and has not changed with the introduction of paternity leave. To qualify, the employee must have been employed for more than year and have, or expect to have, responsibility for a child. Employees may take up to 13 weeks in the first 6 years of their child’s life (or 18 years if the child is disabled) at a maximum of 4 weeks per year. Parental leave is unpaid.

An employer may choose to provide paid parental leave in which case the employee and employer pension contributions should be made by reference to the amount of pay actually received by the employee.

Adoption Leave

There are Regulations governing the right for adopting parents to take adoption leave in the same way as maternity and paternity leave including entitlement to shared parental leave. Provided the employee can show the requisite relationship to the person with whom the child is placed for adoption and that he or she will have, or expects to have, responsibility for the child or supporting the person who is responsible for the child’s upbringing, they may be able to apply for adoption leave.

The qualifying conditions are:

  • an employee for a minimum of 26 weeks ending with the week in which he/she was notified of having been matched with the child
  • the child’s adopter
  • has notified the agency that they have agreed to have the child placed with them on a specific placement date

The adopter will be entitled to ordinary and additional adoption leave. The 10 days’ keeping in touch days and the 8 week notice provisions applicable to maternity leave will also apply here and there is no small business exemption, similar to the maternity rules.

Provided a father qualifies under the general adoption regulations, and also fulfils the necessary qualifications, he can apply for shared parental leave in respect of any children born on or after 5th April 2015. For details on shared parental leave and pay, please click here.

Statutory Adoption Pay

During their adoption leave most employees will be eligible for Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) of up to 39 weeks from their employer. Employers may reclaim SAP in the same way as with SMP and SPP. The rate of SAP is the lesser of a flat rate or 90% of their average weekly earnings. The rate is subject to review every April.

Emergency Time Off and the Right to Request Time Off For Training

Under the legislation employees may take a reasonable time of unpaid leave to deal with domestic emergencies provided the person in question is a relative, spouse, child or dependant of that employee. Some employers provide for emergency time off to be paid up to a maximum amount of days but payment is not a requirement under the legislation. Emergency time off might include time for funerals, sick children, or to make arrangements for the care of sick dependants.

A right to request unpaid time off for training came into force in April 2010, allowing qualifying employees to request time off for training where the employer employs 250 or more staff. The right is to request unpaid time off although, for low paid staff, the national minimum wage should be borne in mind because the hours off for training unpaid still count towards the weekly hours worked by the employee for this purpose. Therefore the total weekly pay must equate to above the national minimum wage in respect of the hours both worked and taken off for training

Only one request can be made in a 12 month period, by employees with over 26 weeks continuous service. The training must be to improve their effectiveness, and the performance of the business. The application must identify the type pf training requested, by whom it will be provided, and the timescales involved. There is a particular procedure to follow, which closely mirrors that for requests for flexible working (for details please click here. The employer must consider the request and,

if refused, give a right of appeal. An explanation as to any refusal must be given. The statutory right to be accompanied applies to this procedure.

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