Employees who have completed one year's continuous service with a company are entitled to 18 weeks of unpaid leave to care for their child. This is a right for which both mothers and fathers are eligible. The right to take 18 weeks parental leave applies until the child's 5th birthday (five years from the date of adoption or until the child's 18th birthday, whichever is sooner). The entitlement to 18 weeks parental leave is 18 weeks per child.
Where the child concerned is disabled the right is available to the parent until the child reaches the age of 18. Parents with a child entitled to a disability living allowance may now take 18 weeks’ leave.
Where an Employee elects to take parental leave, if he or she takes 4 weeks or less, the right to return to the same job is retained. Where more than 4 weeks parental leave is taken the parent has a right to return to a similar job but not necessarily the same one.
It is a matter for the Employer and Employee to agree how parental leave will be operated. In the absence of an agreement between the parties or in the event of the matter not being dealt with within the contract of employment, then the provisions of the Parental Leave Regulations 1999 will be applicable.