Does an employee have the absolute right to take ordinary parental leave following on directly from maternity leave or can the period of ordinary parental leave be postponed for business reasons?

An employee does not have an absolute right to take ordinary parental leave at any particular time except in defined circumstances, which are where a prospective father or adoptive parent seeks ordinary parental leave for the time that a child is due to be born or adopted. It follows that where an employee wishes to take ordinary parental leave following on directly after a period of maternity leave the usual rules for taking ordinary parental leave apply.

The default rules, which apply unless different rules have been instituted by agreement, are that the employee must give at least 21 days' notice before the date on which she wishes her period of ordinary parental leave to begin and the employer may postpone the period of leave requested in certain defined circumstances. The circumstances that will justify a postponement are where there would be an undue disruption to the business if the employee took ordinary parental leave at the time requested. In this case the employer must, when refusing the period of ordinary parental leave requested, offer the employee an alternative period of ordinary parental leave of equivalent length within the next six months.