Parental leave has been available to parents of children under 5 years of age for some time. The same rules allow adoptive parents to take leave for up to 5 years after the child is placed with them and parents of disabled children can take the leave up to the child's 18th birthday.

From 5 April the current age limit will be removed and all parents of children under 18 will be entitled to request parental leave.

The total amount of parental leave that can be taken per child was increased from 13 weeks to 18 weeks in March 2013.   There are no other changes being made to the parental leave scheme. Employees will still:

  • have to have a year's service to apply,
  • have,or expect to have responsibility for a child.
  • take leave in blocks of one week and no more than 4 weeks per year
  • have to take unpaid leave
  • normally be required to give 21 days notice of a request to take leave

Employers must permit leave to be taken immediately following the birth or adoption of a child and in other cases need to follow the requirements of the Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999 to postpone parental leave requests generally.     

This leave should not be confused with the new shared parental leave that comes in to force in respect of babies due or children placed for adoption on or after 5 April. For more details on shared parental leave please see our e-update.