What if my employer tries to prevent me taking parental leave, or dismisses or disadvantages me for it?

You have the right to complain to an employment tribunal if your employer has unreasonably refused to let you take time off for dependants, unreasonably postponed your parental leave, or has prevented or tried to prevent you from taking parental leave.

You also have a separate right not to be dismissed or subjected to any unfavourable treatment (such as harassment, or having your job downgraded or your pay cut) because you have taken, or tried to take, parental leave or time off for dependants.

You should normally put your complaint in writing to your employer first, to see if it can be resolved without a claim to the tribunal. Remember that tribunal deadlines are very strict. You only have three months from the date of the incident you are complaining about in which to bring your claim. If you are considering making a complaint, get advice from a union rep, a solicitor or other specialist adviser.

The first step before bringing any employment tribunal claim is to submit an Acas Early Conciliation Notification Form to Acas (you can do this online). Acas early conciliation is free.

You must contact Acas before you issue your tribunal claim, although you do not have to participate in the conciliation process, and nor does your employer.

You should contact Acas as soon as possible and must, in any event, take this step within the three-month time limit for bringing your claim.

You will not be allowed to issue your claim without an Acas Early Conciliation Certificate.

For more information, see our section Enforcing your rights.

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.

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