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Ordinary parental leave

Author: Lynda Macdonald

Introduction

This line manager briefing looks at the law and best practice on "ordinary" parental leave, including eligibility to take ordinary parental leave, employees' rights during and after ordinary parental leave, and the choices available regarding the scheduling of ordinary parental leave.

It should be noted that the rights and duties discussed in this briefing are the minimum statutory rights and duties. Individual employers may offer their employees contractual entitlements over and above the minimum statutory rights. Employees' contractual terms may therefore be the source of further rights and duties that line managers will be required to take into account.

Ordinary parental leave is a legal entitlement for both men and women. It is a period of up to 18 weeks' unpaid leave for employees who are the parents of children aged under 18.

"Ordinary parental leave" should not be confused with shared parental leave. Shared parental leave enables mothers to commit to ending their maternity or adoption leave and pay at a future date, and to share the untaken balance of leave and pay as shared parental leave and pay with their partner, or to return to work early from maternity leave and opt in to shared parental leave and pay at a later date.

Furthermore, "ordinary parental leave" should not be confused with paternity leave (which entitles employees to take one or two weeks' paid leave within eight weeks of the birth or adoption of a child).