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    Summer Holidays and Working Parents?

    Published on July 12th, 2021 | by Sophie West

    The summer holidays are fast approaching (can you believe we’re over halfway through 2021 already!) and you may have some employees struggling with childcare during the school break. 6 weeks is a long time and for those working parents, and it comes with 6 weeks’ worth of childcare arrangements.

    We understand that you’ll have probably had a lot of holiday requests already. It’s a difficult time to manage as a business – you need to ensure business continuity.

    Manage your holiday requests sensibly, especially during the summer holidays. Make sure there aren’t too many people off at the same time. It’s easy to default to ‘accepting’ requests without looking at the full picture of the workforce and peaks in demand of your product or service. So plan ahead. Utilising annual leave is most likely to be the most practical solution. You are also entitled to refuse holiday if too many people are off at the same time. However, tread carefully as you don’t want to be treating working parents more or less favourably. We can help you strike the right balance with this.

    It’s also worth noting that eligible employees are entitled to 18 weeks statutory unpaid parental leave per child up to the child’s 18th birthday. So if you do get requests to take such leave, please bear in mind the following.

    Most importantly, this is a legal statutory request so please seek advice (preferably by talking to us!) if you do receive such a request.

    An employee wanting to take parental leave must take the leave in full weeks and not a day here and there. However, if the child has a disability, then ad hoc days are legally permitted.

    The 18 weeks do not have to be taken all at once.

    An employee will be eligible for unpaid parental leave if they meet the following criteria:

    • They have been in the Company for more than a year.
    • They are named on the child’s birth or adoption certificate, or they have to expect to have parental responsibility.
    • They are not self employed or a worker i.e. an agency worker or contractor.
    • They are not a foster parent (unless they have secured parental responsibility through the courts).
    • The child is under 18.

    If an eligible employee wants to take unpaid parental leave, they have to give 21 days’ notice before they intend to take the leave.

    An employer can postpone or delay the leave. The only exception to this is if:

    • The business doesn’t have a ‘significant reason’ to postpone the leave, for example, it will cause disruption to the business.
    • It’s been taken by the father or partner immediately after the birth or adoption of a child.
    • It means the employee would no longer qualify for the leave (the child goes over 18).

    If an employer does need to postpone the leave, they must inform the employee in writing, explaining why they have postponed it within 7 days of the original request. They must also suggest a new date for the leave to be taken but this must be within 6 months of the original requested date. The employer cannot ask the employee to change the amount of leave requested.

    Unpaid parental leave is planned leave and the employee must give notice to take it. If an employee needs to take emergency leave, this will be classed as dependants leave. Alternatively, this may be sick leave or holiday if it is approved by the employer.

    There are many reasons why employees may want to take unpaid parental leave aside from looking after them in school holidays, summer holidays being a popular trend. Other reasons could be to simply spend more time with their children, to care for them when they are sick or to visit grandparents.

    So don’t be alarmed if one of your employees requests unpaid parental leave as this is a statutory right. If you require any letters or further advice on unpaid parental leave or managing holiday requests, please contact us on 01527 571617 or email us!

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