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How to understand if you are entitled to Parental Leave

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Parental leave is a legal entitlement for some employees and is available for either parent to take time off work to look after a child or make arrangements for the child’s welfare. Employees get 13 weeks parental leave in total for each child born or adopted. If your child is disabled you are eligible for 18 weeks in total. Parental leave is unpaid.
What you'll need: 
A copy of your Employment Contract or Staff Handbook
1: 
Parental leave is available to employees who have, or expect to have, parental responsibility for a child (born or adopted). To be eligible, employees generally have to have one year’s continuous service with their current employer.
2: 
Parental leave can be taken at any time from the birth (or adoption) of the child up to their fifth birthday (or fifth year of adoption placement). Parents of disabled children can take up to 18 weeks up to their child’s 18th birthday.
3: 
You have to give notice to take parental leave. This may be set by your employer but generally it is 21 days notice of when you want to begin the leave. Your employer may want this in writing. As long as you give the correct notice to your employer, parents are able to take parental leave.
4: 
How to take the leave. You must take your leave in blocks of full weeks (unless your employer allows you take it in shorter blocks). If your child has a disability, you can take time off in blocks of less than a week, so you could use parental leave for regular hospital visits. The maximum each parent can take a year is four weeks leave for any one child – unless your employer agrees you can take longer. (The year starts when you become eligible for parental leave).
5: 
Your employment rights while on Parental Leave and when you return to work - You have the right to return to the same job as before, if the leave was for a period of four weeks or less. If the leave was for a longer period you are entitled to return to the same job, or, if that is not reasonably practicable, a similar job which has the same or better status, terms and conditions as the old job, if one is available. You are entitled to continue to accrue Statutory Holiday Entitlement and your pension rights are not affected while you are on Parental Leave. Any benefits you get that are ‘contractual’ rather than statutory entitlements may be affected but your employer should advise you of this.
Tips: 
You can take 4 weeks of Parental Leave at the end of your maternity leave, if you want more time off, without affecting your returning ‘rights’.
What happens if we have twins? Parental leave is for each child, so if twins are born/adopted each parent will get 13 weeks leave for each child (18 weeks for parents of each disabled child).
If you get a new job, you can carry over untaken parental leave although you won't be able to take the leave until you have been with your new Employer for a year.
Warnings: 
It is only available for Employees (not for Workers or Freelancers).
Parental Leave is unpaid, unless your Employer gives you contractual rights to pay during this period. If you are on a very low income you may be able to get Income Support during this time.
Your employer has the right to postpone your requested parental leave dates for up to 6 months, if their business would be significantly affected by your leave. Your employer should discuss this with you and confirm the postponement arrangements in writing no later than seven days after you apply for the leave. They should tell you the reason for the postponement and set out the new dates of your parental leave, as agreed with you. The length of leave you are given should be equivalent to the amount you applied for. If the postponement goes past the end of your entitlement period (e.g. after your child's fifth birthday), you are still entitled to take the leave.
References: 

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