What happens to my conditions of service when I’m on parental leave?

During parental leave, you will still be an employee but your employer is not obliged to pay your wages during that time. Your contractual rights, such as the right to 28 days’ paid annual leave, will not be affected and can accrue while you are on parental leave. However, your employer can suspend your contractual rights, such as any paid holiday over and above the statutory minimum.

Whatever the position is where you work, it should have been clearly set out in your employment contract, a collective agreement or policy and should have been made clear to you before you took your leave.

If you took parental leave before 6 April 2003, your employer does not have to count the period of leave when they are calculating your seniority or pensionable service. However, all parental leave taken after 6 April 2003 must be counted for purposes of seniority, pension and similar rights. In these circumstances, you will be treated as if you had never been absent.

Some good employers may well provide a better parental leave entitlement than the legal minimum and you should check your contract. You should also check any other relevant employers’ policies or union agreements. Whatever the case in your circumstances, your statutory rights (i.e. rights that apply by law to all employees in this country) will continue.

Your employer must not discriminate against you while you are on any part of your parental leave. You should seek advice from your union or a legal specialist in such instances. For more information, see our Enforcing your Rights section.

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.