Family Responsibilities

This page was last updated on: 2021-09-18

Paternity Leave

Eligible fathers (continuously employed for a period of at least 26 weeks ending with the week immediately preceding the 14th week before the expected date of delivery) are entitled to one or two weeks' paternity leave to be taken within the 56 days of child birth and paid at a rate of £136.78 per week (from April 2013). Some employers offer enhanced contractual paternity pay. A right to additional paternity leave gives fathers whose partners have returned to work the right to take between two and 26 weeks' extra leave before a child's first birthday. The father may be entitled to take the balance of the mother's Statutory Maternity Pay entitlement. If a worker is taking paternity leave for a birth, the leave can start either on the day the baby is born or on a date that has been agreed in advance with the employer. Paternity leave cannot start before the baby is born, and, if the worker is agreeing on a date later than the birth of baby, the paternity leave must be completed within 56 of days of the birth.

Source: §80A & 80AA of ERA; §45 of the Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2014 

Parental Leave

People who have worked for their employer for one year have the right to unpaid parental leave. Workers are entitled to 18 weeks' unpaid leave before the child is five or before 18 years age if the child is disabled. The employee who is absent on parental leave is entitled to the benefit of the terms and conditions of employment which would have applied if he had not been absent including seniority, pension rights and similar rights. For each adopted child, the unpaid parental leave is allowed up to the child’s 18th birthday or 5th anniversary of his/her adoption, whichever comes first.

Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018, applicable from 2020, grants employed parents a right to two weeks' paid leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. Parents are also eligible for statutory parental bereavement pay after fulfilling eligibility criteria (similar to those for paternity pay).

Source: §76-77 of ERA; The Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations; Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018

Flexible Work Option for Parents / Work-Life Balance

Employees with at least 26 weeks' service are entitled to request flexible working to allow them to care for child or adult dependents. They have the right to ask for flexible working if their child is under 17 or child is under 18 and disabled. There is a specific procedure, which the employer must follow when dealing with such a request. The right to flexible working time is not a statutory right and may or may not be granted. The employer could also face a penalty and indirect discrimination claims if a request is refused.

In more recent times, the right to request flexible working that was previously confined to those employees with caring responsibilities has now been amended and extends to all workers. Rules have also been created with regards to the length of the service requirement, how to make an application and the remedies available (Flexible Working Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1398). The employee must have 26 weeks of continuous employment to submit an application (Regulation No. 3), which must be dated, in writing and must state whether previously any similar applications were made and when (Regulation 4). If the employer rejects such an application on such a ground not specified in law (Section 80G of the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides the criteria for rejecting), the employee may make a complaint to the employment tribunal who may award the employee a maximum of 8 weeks’ pay if it finds that the compliant is well-founded. For this purpose, a week's pay will be calculated in accordance with the criteria already provided in law. (Regulation No.6). A week’s pay is subject to a maximum limit as set out in section 227 of theAct of 1996.

This is also further supplemented by The Children and Families Act 2014, which also extends the right to request flexible working to all employees with at least 26 weeks' continuous service. The new duty will require employers to deal with requests in a reasonable manner within a three -month decision period.

Source: §80(F-H) of Employment Rights Act 1996; The Flexible Working (Eligibility, Complaints and Remedies) Regulations 2002

Regulations on Family Responsibilities

  • Employment Rights Act (ERA), 1996 last amended in 2012
  • The Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2002
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