Parental leave and time off for dependants

Parental leave notification and postponement


An employee must give you at least 21 days' notice before a period of parental leave begins, of both the start and end dates of the leave period they intend to take.

The employee does not have to give you this notice in writing unless you request it. This notice is valid if orally given. However, there must be evidence of a formal application for leave. It would be sensible to consider confirming this in writing ie receipt of the employee's notice.

An employee must notify you 21 days before their maternity, adoption, paternity, or shared parental leave ends if they want to take parental leave immediately after the end of their maternity or adoption leave.

Notification for parental leave immediately after childbirth or placement for adoption

If an employee wants to take parental leave immediately after the birth of a child, they must give you 21 days' notice before the beginning of the expected week of childbirth.

If an employee wants to take parental leave immediately after the placement for the adoption of a child, they must give you 21 days' notice of the expected week of placement. In rare cases where this is not possible, an adoptive parent should give you notice as soon as is reasonably practicable.

As long as the employee gives the right notice, their parental leave will start on the day on which the child is:

  • born - regardless of whether the child is born early or late
  • placed for adoption

You should note that taking parental leave following childbirth applies only to fathers/partners as the mother will be on maternity leave.

Postponing parental leave

If you have good business reasons, you can postpone the leave for up to six months after the beginning of the leave period the employee originally requested. However, you cannot postpone leave so that it ends after a child's 18th birthday.

You are only entitled to postpone leave if it would cause significant disruption to your business, eg if leave was requested:

  • over a period of peak seasonal production
  • at the same time as other employees have requested leave
  • when the employee's absence would unduly harm your business
  • where a replacement cannot be found within the notice period
  • in the education sector where postponement is necessary to ensure the continuation of education

Note that you can't postpone leave where the employee wants to take it immediately after their child is born or placed with them for adoption.

If you need to postpone your employee's parental leave, you must consult your employee about a new date.

To do this, you must write to the employee within seven days of receiving the employee's notification explaining why you need to postpone their leave and confirming the new start and end date.

You must allow the employee to take the same amount of parental leave as they originally applied for. You cannot reduce the amount of leave requested or break it up into shorter periods.

Download our standard letter for notifying your employee that their parental leave has been postponed (DOC, 162K).

Read more on when can parental leave be taken and for how long.

  • LRA Workplace Information Service
    03300 555 300
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