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In March 2012, statutory parental leave entitlement was increased to 16 weeks. However, many employers are unaware of the existence of parental leave, while others confuse it with maternity and paternity leave. In this employment law advice guide, Peninsula will explain the difference, as well as who is eligible for what kind of leave.

Parental leave allows employees with one year's service to take unpaid leave to care for their child. It can be taken immediately after maternity or paternity leave, or instead, can be taken at any time until the child's 5th birthday. Individual parental leave is available to each parent who is named on the birth or adoption certificate, and for each child, but leave cannot be transferred or shared between parents. In short, parental leave entitlement means your employees can take up to 4 months of unpaid time off work, so you may need to arrange cover.

Meanwhile, employees who take maternity leave are eligible for statutory maternity pay. This is set at 90 per cent of the employee's normal earnings, with no upper limit, for six weeks. For the next 33 weeks, the standard rate of £135.45 per week applies.

Paternity leave is also paid, but dads are only eligible for the statutory £135.45 for two weeks. The only exception is if the mother has returned to work and stopped receiving her statutory maternity pay; in this scenario, the father or partner can claim it in her stead for up to 26 weeks.

For further guidance on parental, maternity or paternity leave entitlement, you can contact the 24 hour employment law helpline for free on 0800 328 9348 and the team will be happy to help.

If you are a member of the media and need any further assistance, would like to discuss case studies for a particular feature, or be added to our media contact list, feel free to contact Sammual-James McLoughlin, head of media, press and public relations at Peninsula, on 0161 827 8511 or


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