Statutory parental leave extended to 16 weeks

This month, the period of entitlement for statutory parental leave was increased to 16 weeks. The problem is, however, that many employers are still unaware that parental leave actually exists, while others get it confused with maternity and paternity leave. In their employment law advice guide, Peninsula fully explain the difference, as well as telling you who is eligible for what type of leave.

Parental leave lets employees with 12 months service to take unpaid leave to care for their family, and can be taken immediately after any maternity or paternity leave, or at any time up until the child’s fifth birthday.

Individual parental leave is available for each parent who is named on the child’s birth or adoption certificate, and is applicable to each child they have, but leave can neither be shared nor transferred between the parents. In short, parental leave entitlement allows you employees to take up to 4 months off work unpaid, so you may need to arrange cover.

Meanwhile, employees who take maternity leave are eligible for statutory maternity pay. This is set at 90 per cent of the employee’s normal earnings, with no upper limit, for six weeks. For the next 33 weeks, the standard rate of £135.45 per week applies.

Paternity leave is also paid, but dads are only eligible for the statutory £135.45 for two weeks. The only exception is if the mother has returned to work and stopped receiving her statutory maternity pay; in this scenario, the father or partner can claim it in her stead for up to 26 weeks.

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