Firms warned requests for unpaid parental leave on the rise

Travel employers have been told to expect more requests for unpaid parental leave as employees reassess their priorities post-Covid.

The issue was discussed at C&M Travel Recruitment’s latest webinar, Euros & Olympics: The ABC Guide to Curing Staff Headaches in Summer 2024.

Parents are entitled to 18 weeks’ leave for each child and adopted child up to their 18th birthday. The limit on parental leave per parent in one year is four weeks per child, unless the employer agrees otherwise.

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It must be taken as whole weeks rather than individual days, unless otherwise agreed or if the child is disabled, but it is not required to be taken all at once.

Travlaw partner and head of employment Ami Naru said requests for unpaid parental leave were becoming more common despite having been in place since 1999.

She said: “More employees are becoming aware of what they can take and their rights. Do not be surprised if you get requests for this.”

To take parental leave, employees must have worked for the company for more than a year and have a child under the age of 18. While an employer cannot refuse a request, they can postpone it.

Naru said it was possible the uptake had increased because more parents had realised the importance of a work-life balance and spending time with their children while they were young, particularly after their experiences during the Covid pandemic.

“Parental leave has been around for ages but I think the new world that we work in post-Covid has probably made people reconsider their priorities. It is something more and more employees are using if they can afford it,” she added.

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