With the summer holidays approaching, here’s a timely reminder for all parents of school age children: following changes to the law around unpaid parental leave in April this year, many employees now have a legal right to take time off to look after any child up to the age of 18. This choice will be welcomed particularly by working parents who have traditionally struggled to find affordable holiday childcare. Last summer, before the law changed:
- 4 million fewer parents had the option of taking unpaid parental leave (before April, only parents with children up to the age of 5 were given the choice).
- 1 in 3 working parents couldn’t find affordable holiday childcare.
- 1 in 8 said they had given up work to look after their children.
Given the squeeze on wages in recent years, only you can decide if saving on childcare and spending time with your kids makes economic sense, but at least it’s now your decision to make.
If you want to apply for unpaid parental leave, you need to give your employer 21 days’ notice, and with the end of term just a few weeks away, now’s the time to get your request in.
A couple of important caveats: you must have worked for your employer for at least a year to be eligible; and your manager does have the right to postpone your leave, but only if they can clearly demonstrate that your taking time off will unduly disrupt business.
Of course, many good employers will negotiate a better agreement around parental leave with their staff through a union, so check with your rep for any extra entitlements that you might have.
Visit our comprehensive Parental Leave (Unpaid) section for more details.