Parental Leave And Dependent Leave

Posted: Sunday February 2 2020

By: Flora Mewies

At some point during each of our careers we are likely to develop caring responsibilities. Whilst caring is rewarding, it is also challenging, especially when juggling conflicting responsibilities. Work shouldn’t have to be an added burden and employers should be there to assist you.

Juggling caring responsibilities as an employee – parental leave / dependent leave and flexible working


Parental leave

If you are a parent or guardian to a biological or adopted child, you can take unpaid leave for the sole reason of caring for a child under the age of 18. “Caring” in this context has a broad meaning and you can request this leave to spend more time with the kids or even look at new schools.

In order to benefit from parental leave, you must have continuously worked for your employer for at least 1 year and have (or expect to have) responsibility for a child. You could benefit from up to 18 weeks’ unpaid leave for one child or 36 weeks’ unpaid leave as a maximum for two children.

As an employee, you have to provide advance notice to your employer and agree the time off between you. As such, this type of leave is not really suitable for emergency situations. During the period of leave, you will still benefit from contractual rights, such as the accrual of statutory holiday entitlement and remain bound your contract terms relating to, for example, working for another business. When you are ready to return to work, depending on the circumstances, you may return to the exact same role or a suitable alternative.


Dependant leave

According to the Carers Trust, a carer is “anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support”. If you are an employee and a carer, you can take a reasonable amount of unpaid leave to deal with emergency situations affecting your dependant. This could be a spouse, civil partner, child, parent or anyone who reasonably relies on you for assistance and primary care. Unfortunately, this right does not extend to workers or the self-employed.

Governmental guidance states that employees may take dependant leave:

– if a dependant becomes ill, has a baby, is injured or assaulted;

– if a dependant is ill or injured and an employee needs to make care arrangements for them;

– if a dependant dies;

– if they need to deal with unexpected disruption, termination or breakdown of arrangements for the care of a dependant;

– if there is an unexpected incident involving their child during school hours.

There is no qualifying period of employment required for this type of leave. You must tell your employer as soon as reasonably practicable and provide them with as much information as possible, including how long you think you will be away from work. There is no set limit on how much time you can take off; the right of dependant leave allows employees to take as much time off as is necessary in the circumstances.

From an employer’s perspective, a request for dependant leave must be considered fairly and in accordance with company policy and the law. A request cannot be dealt with in a discriminatory manner, as this may result in direct discrimination based on association.

Flexible working

Flexible working is also an option for you to consider if you have caring responsibilities. This could be remote working, job-sharing, part-time work, compressed hours or flexitime, to name a few options. You are entitled to submit one flexible working request a year, so long as you have continuously worked for your employer for a 26 week period.

Once a request has been submitted, an employer has three months to make a decision, which can be extended. An employer must deal with a request in a reasonable manner, assess the advantages and disadvantages of the situation and hold a meeting with the employee.

If the request is granted, a permanent change to your contract of employment is made. If it is rejected, an employer must provide an explanation for the decision and right of appeal. A rejection could be as a result of, for example, the burden of additional costs, an inability to reorganise workloads or recruit additional staff.

Top tips

1. Employees should know their rights. If you’re unsure, turn to a professional adviser or resources such as or

2. Having a safe space for open communication and emotional support in the workplace makes the world of difference. Caring for others should be admired, not made more difficult. A listening ear can lessen the burden for someone who may be feeling isolated and alone.

3. Employers should have a handbook or policy detailing employees’ rights regarding the different types of leave so that this information is accessible and easy to understand.

4. Staff should be trained, especially those at managerial level, on how approach what is sometimes thought of as the elephant in the room. They should understand the scope of caring responsibilities are, why support is required and how this can be provided.

Parental Leave And Dependent Leave

How can Ward Hadaway help?

Ward Hadaway can assist with any queries relating to leave requests or reasonable adjustments and provide policies through our HR Protect package. This gives you access to precedent documents, template policies and unlimited HR and employment law advice for a fixed monthly fee. You can get in touch with us here and a member of our team will contact you within 24 hours to discuss how HR Protect can work for you.

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Parental Leave And Dependent Leave

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