Employees are entitled to 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave if:
- they have at least one year's continuous service with you and/or an associated employer
- they have a child under the age of 18
- they have - or expect to have - parental responsibility for the child
A week's leave is equal to the length of time the employee is normally required to work, eg a week's leave is:
- five days for an employee working Monday to Friday
- two days for an employee working Tuesday and Wednesday only
The parent doesn't have to be living with the child to qualify.
The right applies to each child. Therefore, if an employee has twins they are entitled to 36 weeks' parental leave.
Parental leave cannot be transferred between parents and is a different entitlement to the recently introduced entitlement to shared parental leave and pay.
The leave must be taken within a set period - see when parental leave can be taken and for how long.
Entitlement where the employee changes employer
The 18-week entitlement applies to an individual child, not to an individual employment.
Therefore if, for example, an employee has taken eight weeks' parental leave with their previous employer, they are only entitled to take another ten weeks while in your employment. They must also have completed a year's service with you to qualify.
Evidence of entitlement
You can ask an employee to produce evidence to show that:
- the employee is the parent of a child
- the employee has parental responsibility for the child
- the child is below the age at which the right to parental leave ceases
This evidence could be:
- the child's birth certificate
- papers confirming a child's adoption or the date of placement for adoption
Your request for evidence must be reasonable, eg it may not be reasonable for you to check on the employee's entitlement on every occasion on which leave is asked for.
You are not required by law to keep formal records of employees' parental leave.