Leave relating to parenthood

Time off for family and dependants

Employees can take time off to deal with an emergency affecting a family member or dependant, such as an illness. Employers should allow the individual to take off a reasonable amount of time to deal with the issue.  The employer is not required to pay employees in such situations, but it is recommended that the rules and procedures associated with taking time off for family and dependants is clearly outlined within the employment handbook.

What is Parental Leave?

Some employees, if eligible, will be entitled to parental leave. Parental leave is time off unpaid to look after the welfare of a child. Eligible individuals are entitled to 18 weeks’ leave for each child up to their 18th Birthday. In any one year, the limit is 4 weeks for each child. Parental Leave must be taken in weeks not days.

What is Maternity Leave?

Maternity leave refers to the legal protection given to a mother immediately after she gives birth.

Statutory Maternity Leave

Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave regardless of how long they have been employed for. The first 26 weeks is known as ‘ordinary maternity leave’, the last 26 weeks as ‘additional maternity leave’. Employees must take a minimum of two weeks off after the birth of their baby and if they work in a factory a minimum of four weeks must be taken.

Statutory Maternity Pay

Eligible employees can receive statutory maternity pay for up to 39 weeks, it is often split in the following way:

the first 6 weeks: 90% of their average weekly earnings (AWE) before tax

the remaining 33 weeks: £145.18 or 90% of their AWE (whichever is lower)

Some employers will produce their own maternity scheme, if this is the case it is essential that you make sure your maternity leave and pay policies are clear and available to all employees. There are lots of legalities surrounding maternity leave and employees are able to make claims to the Employment Tribunal if they feel they have been discriminated against or treated unfairly.

What is Paternity Leave?

Paternity leave refers to the legal protection given to a father following the birth of their child by the mother.

Statutory Paternity Leave            

By law employees are entitled to take either 1 week or 2 consecutive weeks’ leave after the birth of their child.  The start date can be the actual day of birth or an agreed number of days after the birth but not before. Paternity leave must be taken with 56 days of the birth.

Statutory Paternity Pay

Statutory Paternity Pay for eligible employees is either £145.18 a week of 90% of the individual’s average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

What is Shared Parental Leave?

Employees may be able to get Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) after the birth of their baby.

Employees can take Shared Parental Leave in up to 3 separate blocks. Parents can choose how much of the Shared Parental Leave each of them will take but it must be taken between the baby’s birth and first birthday.

Absence requests relating to childcare arrangements must be dealt with correctly to avoid any claims of discrimination of unfair treatment.  If you have any concerns relating to Parental leave it is recommended that employers seek professional legal advice to ensure they are following the correct protocol and are not at risk of doing anything incorrectly.


Our employment team is able to provide the appropriate advice and guidance in relation to Parental Leave to ensure you are compliant. They offer no-obligation initial appointments and can meet you at any of our office locations in Market Harborough, Leicester or Wigston.  You can contact the team directly by calling us on 0116 212 1000, alternatively complete our online contact form.




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