From 5 April 2015, unpaid parental leave for parents with one year’s continuous service will increase to 18 weeks until the child’s 18th birthday. Both parents can take up to 18 weeks. Employees will need to give at least 21 days’ notice, but employers are entitled to take into account the needs of their business. 

Employees’ reasons for seeking leave will need to relate to childcare, but are very broad and can include visiting grandparents or looking at schools. Leave will have to be taken in blocks of one week. Certain contractual rights will continue during parental leave, such as compensation for redundancy, and disciplinary and grievance procedures. This may prove to be a help for parents faced with childcare issues during school holidays, but employers will potentially face problems of fairness if this is a common request.