Guide

Parental leave and time off for dependants

Reasons for taking parental leave

An employee may only take parental leave to care for the child. This means looking after the welfare of a child and can include making arrangements for the good of a child.

For example, an employee might take parental leave to:

  • spend more time with the child
  • accompany the child during a stay in hospital
  • check out new schools
  • help settle the child into new childcare arrangements
  • enable a family to spend more time together, eg taking the child to stay with grandparents

Caring for a child does not necessarily mean the employee has to be with the child 24 hours a day.

If you find that the employee is using the parental leave for some other purpose, eg to do other work, you could deal with this using your disciplinary procedure. Read more on disciplinary procedures, hearings and appeals.

A period of notice is normally required before taking parental leave - see notification and postponement of parental leave. Therefore, parental leave is not suitable where an employee's child suddenly falls ill.

However, the employee will be able to take a short period of emergency leave to care for the child - see time off to deal with emergencies involving dependants.

You can agree to allow an employee to take parental leave at short notice, eg if a child falls ill.