Duncan Lewis

Legal Aid

Lawyers London

EU Parental Leave Directive for unpaid parental leave of 18 weeks comes into force

Date: (14 March 2013)    |    

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The unpaid parental leave entitlement of 18 weeks from earlier 13 weeks has come into force since yesterday.

Working parents who have been employed for a year or more are now entitled to take unpaid parental leave to care for their children which are additional entitlement to any other maternity, paternity or adoption leave they may qualify for.

The eighteen weeks per parent, per child leave will have to be taken before the child’s fifth birthday or the fifth anniversary of their placement for adoption.

For a child who is living on disability allowance the entitlement for parents would be 18 weeks leave at any time before the child attains 18th birthday.

The statutory scheme would allow no more than four weeks leave to be taken in any one year and the leave must be taken in one week blocks.

The extension had been made in accordance with the revised EU Parental Leave Directive. The reforms which were supposed to be implemented in March 2012 a twelve month grace period had been taken advantage of by the UK government.

However an employment lawyer and partner in a employment law firm said that the change was not going to bring any significant difference to employers.

The fact that the leave was unpaid meant that take-up at least for the time being has not, been great, she explained.
Changes to maternity and paternity leave, both recent and proposed, mean that fathers are able to take more significant periods of time off following the birth or adoption of a child, and recourse to the unpaid parental leave provisions is infrequent.
She added that the government was also planning to relax the age restrictions around taking unpaid parental leave in future.
From 2015 all parents will have leave entitlement up until their child’s 18th birthday creating a much wider window of opportunity she added.
However, this proposal has not been included in the children and families bill, which is currently on its way through parliament.