Men and women are entitled to parental leave if they have dependants under the age of five or a child who receives disability allowance.
On 8th March 2013 this entitlement was increased from 13 weeks to 18 weeks unpaid parental leave per child. For each child who receives disability allowance, the parent is entitled to 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave up until the child’s 18th birthday.
If the employee has more than one child, they are entitled to unpaid parent leave for each child but will only be eligible for a total of four weeks unpaid leave per year.
Parental leave can include issues with childcare, health problems, issues at school. All of their employee rights are protected during this leave. Please note parental leave is different to dependants leave, dependants leave(Employment Act 1996) is the right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid leave to deal with unexpected emergencies affecting their dependants.
This change was not expected to make a significant impact as very few employees take up parental leave as it is unpaid. However, there are several planned changes to parental workplace rights, including ensuring more flexibility for parents and keeping it gender-neutral.
Shared parental leave is due to come into force in 2015; these new regulations are designed to allow parents to share the parental responsibility.
This could have a significant impact on your business and you need to start putting plans into place now. Why not give us a call to discuss your HR strategy now, to ensure the minimum impact on your business.