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02 April 2013

Increase in the entitlement to parental leave

Employers are reminded that the right to unpaid parental leave has been extended in order to comply with EU Directive 2010/18. The Parental Leave (EU Directive) Regulations 2013 implemented changes to the existing laws with effect from 8 March 2013.

Changes were made to the Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999 increasing the amount of unpaid parental leave that can be taken by parents who meet the 12-month continuous employment qualification.

The leave will continue to be available per parent per child but an employee will be entitled to 18 weeks rather than 13 weeks.

Similarly, there is no change to the age limits of a child whose parents are entitled to take parental leave – that is, five years old or 18 years old for a disabled child.

The Regulations make no change to the 21-day notice requirement or the limit on the amount of leave that can be taken in a 12-month period. This remains at four weeks in any one year, unless the employer agrees otherwise. Leave must be taken in blocks of one week, unless the employer is happy to vary the rule or the child is disabled.

The Regulations also amend the Employment Rights Act 1996, giving agency workers returning from parental leave the right to request to work flexibly.

In addition, the Secretary of State is required to review the operation and effect of those provisions which implement the Directive and to publish a report within five years and within every five years after that. Following a review, it will fall to the Secretary of State to consider whether the relevant provisions should remain as they are, or be revoked or amended.

The Parental Leave (EU Directive) Regulations 2013 can be found here.

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