What is parental leave and am I entitled to it?

The law allows working parents, or others with a formal parental responsibility, who have worked for their current employer for at least 12 months, up to 18 weeks’ leave for each child up to the age of 18.

Parental leave is an individual right, so it can be taken with you when you move jobs. However, if you do move job you will have to work the qualifying year again. Unless your employer agrees otherwise, or unless your child is disabled, parental leave has to be taken in blocks of a week or more, rather than as odd days. Up to four weeks’ leave per year can be taken.

Check your staff handbook because your employer may have better contractual arrangements for taking parental leave, or there may be a workforce agreement that improves on the statutory scheme. For example, it may allow you to take leave in units of less than one week or take more than four weeks a year, and it may provide for some of the leave to be paid.

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.