What is ordinary parental leave and who is entitled to it?

An employee who has parental responsibility for a child can take up to 18 weeks' ordinary parental leave to care for the child at any time up to the child's 18th birthday. To qualify for ordinary parental leave, the employee must have completed at least one year's continuous service with the employer. Ordinary parental leave is unpaid.

Prior to 5 April 2015, ordinary parental leave had to be taken within the first five years of the child's life, unless the child had been awarded disability living allowance or personal independence payment, in which case the leave could be taken up to the child's 18th birthday. The parents of an adopted child could take ordinary parental leave at any time before the fifth anniversary of the adoption or the child's 18th birthday, whichever occurred sooner. The time period for taking ordinary parental leave was extended on 5 April 2015 so that leave can be taken up to the child's 18th birthday in all circumstances.

Ordinary parental leave is distinct from shared parental leave.