For the purposes of ordinary parental leave, how is "parental responsibility" defined?
To be entitled to take ordinary parental leave, an employee must have a minimum of one year's continuous service and have, or expect to have, "parental responsibility" for a child. The employee must also take the leave for the purpose of caring for the child, but it is not necessary for them to be living with the child in order to qualify.
"Parental responsibility" in this context means responsibility as defined in the Children Act 1989 or the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. While the natural mother of the child automatically has parental responsibility, a father who is not married to the mother will have parental responsibility under the Children Act 1989 only if they are registered as the child's father on the birth certificate, if they make an agreement with the mother or if they obtain a court order to that effect.
Under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 adoptive parents (but not foster parents) are also deemed to have parental responsibility as from the date of the placement of the child with them for adoption. Step-parents may acquire parental responsibility for their partner's child either by adopting the child or by means of an agreement between the step-parent and both natural parents (or by making an application to a court in the event of disagreement). Without such an agreement, a step-parent will not automatically have the right to ordinary parental leave. Finally, a person other than a natural or adoptive parent may acquire parental responsibility for a child, for example by becoming the child's guardian.