Who counts as a 'parent' in order to be able to take parental leave?

Only parents, carers with 'parental responsibility' or who expect to get 'parental responsibility', and fathers who are registered on a child’s birth certificate are entitled to take parental leave for a child. Natural mothers and married fathers automatically have parental responsibility. Unmarried fathers will have 'parental responsibility' if they have been granted it by the mother or have a court order granting it.

Adoptive parents will get 'parental responsibility' when the placement is made. Surrogate parents can get parental responsibility through a Parental Order or an adoption order.

If your employer is disputing your right to take leave on this ground, you should contact your union rep. If you are not a member of a union you may want to get advice from a lawyer specialising in this field. You can contact your local Citizens Advice, Law Centre or the Law Society for details of how to get advice and support.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.