Every employer that has a policy on parental leave should update it to take account of changes to the law coming into force on 8 March 2013. It is good practice for employers to communicate the extended parental leave entitlement to employees.
Even if you have a clear parental leave policy or operate the statutory “fallback scheme”, which applies where no agreement has been set up with the workforce in relation to parental leave, employees may not know know much about parental leave.
Five things your staff may not know about parental leave
(1) Parental leave is a legal entitlement for both men and women. It is a period of leave for employees who have parental responsibility for children aged under five (or under 18 in certain circumstances).
(2) Parental leave should not be confused with ordinary paternity leave or additional paternity leave, nor the Government’s new concept of “shared parental leave”.
(3) Employees have to give notice that they intend to take parental leave and, in certain circumstances, the employer can postpone the period of leave for up to six months.
(4) Parental leave is unpaid. While certain fundamental terms and conditions of employment must be maintained during parental leave, most contractual benefits can be suspended during parental leave.
(5) In most (but not all) cases, parental leave must be taken in blocks of a week or multiples of a week.
Employers can implement a parental leave policy that explains: the circumstances in which employees can take parental leave; the employer’s requirements relating to notice; an explanation of what employment rights and responsibilities will continue to apply during the leave period.