The law allows employees to take periods of statutory leave in several instances. For some types of leave, the employee should receive a level of payment whilst on leave, whilst for others, the leave taken will be unpaid unless the employer has a policy to the contrary.
Maternity leave is available to pregnant employees provided that they have worked for their employer for a continuous period of 40 weeks before the week their baby is due. Once the baby is born, they must then take at least two weeks off work, but can take up to a whole year out of work if they want to. During their leave, if they are eligible, they will receive statutory maternity pay unless the employer offers a more generous package.
Paternity leave is available to partners of either pregnant employees, or those who have adopted a child. The employee is entitled to take two weeks off work at any time within 56 days of the child being born/placed for adoption. Whilst on leave, if they are eligible, employees will be entitled to statutory paternity pay unless the employer offers an enhanced package.
Adoption leave is available to employees where they adopt in one of the prescribed ways. Where a couple is adopting, they must between themselves elect for one of them to be the “primary adopter” – this person will be entitled to take adoption leave and the other will be entitled to take paternity leave. As with maternity leave, adopters are entitled to take up to a year off after a child has been placed with them for adoption and, if eligible, will receive statutory adoption pay unless their employer offers a more generous package.
Shared Parental Leave
Shared parental leave is entirely optional, but was introduced a few years ago to allow parents to share the entitlement to maternity or adoption leave if they wished. Again, where the employee is eligible, they will be entitled to receive statutory shared parental leave pay during their time off, unless the employer offers a more generous package in which case they will be entitled to more.
Employees are entitled to take a total of 18 weeks’ leave per child (under the age of 18), the purpose of this leave being to care for that child. Examples of when leave may be taken include spending time with the child, looking at schools for them, looking after the child when they are ill etc. The entitlement to leave does not reset with each new employer and also does not provide for the employee to be paid whilst taking a period of leave.
Parental Bereavement Leave
Parental bereavement leave is the newest form of leave available to employees. Whilst employees have historically had no right to compassionate leave, the law has now been changed to allow bereaved parents to take two weeks off to deal with their grief. The leave can be taken at any time in the 56 weeks following the death of their child, and the employee is entitled to receive statutory parental bereavement pay where they are eligible. Please note that this right only extends to parents whose children die before their 18th birthday.
Talk to Tollers
The above is just a brief overview of some of the forms of statutory leave an employee may be entitled to receive. The legislation governing these periods of statutory leave is complex and it is important for employers to have clear policies in place so that managers and employees know what is required in order to be eligible for the leave. We can help employers to put together the necessary policies, or discuss your rights with you if you believe you are not being allowed to take the statutory leave you are entitled to.