With effect from the 8 March 2014, unpaid parental leave increases from 13 to 18 weeks per child.
This is meant to be used to enable parents to spend more time with their child, perhaps to settle them into new childcare arrangements or arrange school placements.
The entitlement is offered to any qualifying parent for each child up to their 5th birthday, or their 18th birthday if the child has a disability. It also applies to parents of an adopted child who can take their entitlement up to the child’s 18th birthday or the 5th anniversary of their adoption, whichever is sooner.
As before, in order to qualify a parent must have been employed at their company for more than one year, they must be named on the birth or adoption certificate and have (or expect to have) parental responsibility for the child.
The limit remains at 4 weeks per year and is unpaid. Employees must give 21 days’ notice of their request for parental leave and in some limited circumstances the employer may be able to delay the start date of that parental leave.