1.1 The right to parental leave is a statutory right, introduced by the Employment Relations Act 1999 and the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999. The right is to 18 weeks unpaid leave for the purpose of caring for a child.
2.1 An employee is entitled to up to 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave per child if he/she meets one of the following conditions:
• He/she is the parent of a child who is under five years of age.
• He/she has adopted a child under the age of 18 (the right to parental leave lasts for a period of five years from the date of adoption or until the child's 18th birthday, whichever is the sooner).
• He/she has acquired formal parental responsibility for a child who is under five years of age.
2.2 An employee who is the parent or adoptive parent of a child who has been awarded Disability Living Allowance is entitled to up to 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave, which can be taken up to the child's 18th birthday.
2.3 To qualify for parental leave, employees must have completed at least one year's continuous service with the Company.
3. RIGHTS DURING PARENTAL LEAVE
3.1 Qualifying employees will be entitled to a maximum of 18 weeks unpaid parental leave to be taken up until the child's fifth birthday (unless the child is adopted or disabled). During parental leave the employee will remain employed although pay will be suspended.
3.2 The right to accrue holiday entitlement will remain in place. Other terms and conditions relating to notice periods, redundancy and disciplinary and grievance procedures will also be protected.
3.3 Employees may not take more than four weeks' unpaid leave in respect of any individual child in any year. For these purposes a year is the period of 12 months beginning when the employee first becomes entitled to parental leave in respect of the child in question, and each successive period of 12 months beginning on the anniversary of that date.
4. CONDITIONS OF LEAVE
4.1 Where the employee is the father of the child in respect of whom the leave is to be taken and he requests parental leave to begin when his child is born, his notice must specify the expected week of childbirth and the duration of the period of leave. The employee must give this notice at least 21 calendar days before the expected week of childbirth.
4.2 Where the parental leave is in respect of an adopted child and is to begin on the date of the placement, the employee's notice must be given to the company at least 21 calendar days before the beginning of the week in which the child is to be placed for adoption, or as soon as is reasonably practicable thereafter. It must specify the week in which the placement is expected to occur and the duration of the period of parental leave requested.
5.1 On applying for parental leave, the member of staff must produce a copy of the child’s birth certificate or where the employee is exercising a right in relation to a disabled child, details of the child’s entitlement to Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. If this does not show proof of parental responsibility the member of staff may also be required to produce further evidence, for example, adoption papers.
6. NOTICE PERIOD:
6.1 A member of staff is required to give their Line Manager at least 21 days notice, in writing, of taking parental leave. This notification must include the dates when the leave is to begin and end. If a member of staff wishes to take leave immediately after the birth of a child/placement of an adopted child he or she should give 21 days notice before the expected week of childbirth/placement.
6.2 The employee must give proper notice of the period of leave that he/she proposes to take. This notice must be given to the company at least 21 days before the date on which leave is to start and must specify the dates on which the period of leave is to begin and end.
7. TAKING PARENTAL LEAVE
7.1 Parental leave must be taken in blocks of at least one week (except in relation to a child who is disabled). A week is a member of staff’s normal working week. Therefore, even if, for example, a member of staff’s working week is 5 days, one day taken as parental leave will count as a week of their entitlement. Where a member of staff is normally required under their Contract of Employment to work at varying times in a week or a longer period or to work in some weeks and not others, a week is the total of those periods in a year divided by 52.
7.2 A maximum of 4 weeks parental leave may be taken in one year.
7.3 Parents of disabled children can take their leave in blocks and multiples of one day rather than one week.
8. POSTPONEMENT OF PARENTAL LEAVE
8.1 Parental leave can be postponed in consultation with the employees line manager in the following circumstances:
o Where more time is needed to make arrangements for covering the member of staff’s work.
o Where there is a peak in the relevant Departmental/Organisation workload.
o Where the particular member of staff’s skills are needed at a particular time and the work cannot easily be covered.
8.2 Leave should be postponed for no longer than necessary and in any event no more than 6 months after the commencement of the period originally requested. Notice of postponement will be given to the employee in writing giving the reason for the postponement and the suggested dates for taking the leave.
8.3 Leave cannot be postponed if the leave is to be taken upon the birth of a child or upon the placement of a child for adoption.
9. RETURN TO WORK
9.1 On return to work the member of staff who has taken less than 4 consecutive weeks parental leave (and did not follow on immediately from a period of additional maternity or adoption leave) will be guaranteed return to the same post. If the parental leave was more than 4 weeks every effort will be made for the member of staff to return to the same post. If not, the post offered will be similar to the one which the member of staff held before the start of the leave.
10. RECORD KEEPING
10.1 The company will keep a record on a member of staff’s personal file of any parental leave which has been taken. Staff will be asked to declare how much (if any) parental leave they have already taken with previous employers.
11. MISUSE OF THE PARENTAL LEAVE SCHEME
11.1 Any misuse of the scheme will be dealt with under the Disciplinary Policy & Procedure.
12. RIGHTS OF STAFF
12.1 Staff will have the right to address any complaints in respect of the Parental Leave Policy via the company Grievance Policy.