Guide

Parental leave and time off for dependants

When parental leave can be taken and for how long

An employee can only take a period of parental leave before the child's 18th birthday.

Unless you agree they can take more leave, employees can take a maximum of four weeks' leave in any year in respect of any individual child. Therefore an employee with twins could take up to eight weeks in any one year.

An employee can take a period of leave immediately after the end of maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

Unless you agree leave can be taken in shorter blocks, periods of leave must be taken in multiples of one week - unless the child is disabled, in which case it may be taken as individual days.

Irregular working weeks

If an employee's working pattern varies from week to week, you must calculate an average working week as a fraction of the period for which the employee is required to work in a year.

For example, if you have a contract with an employee to work three days a week for 30 weeks, four days a week for 18 weeks, and two days a week for four weeks, you would calculate the number of days leave in their average week by dividing the total number of working days in these periods by 52.

If an employee takes leave in blocks of less than one week, a week is only deducted from the overall entitlement of 18 weeks when the short periods of leave add up to what would be a normal or average working week. This would only apply in situations where a workforce or a relevant agreement allows leave to be taken in shorter periods than a week or to the parents of a disabled child. This is because under the default scheme, any leave that an employee takes in a week is equivalent to a week.