Unpaid parental leave in the UK in 2022: what you are entitled to

8 December 2022 by Robin - 8 minutes of reading time

unpaid parental leave uk

What is unpaid parental leave? How can I make a request? How much notice do I need to give? If you are an employee, you could qualify for unpaid leave. Then, you could take unpaid time off. This can be used to take care of your child, for example. Your Benefits will tell you everything you need to know about unpaid parental leave.

What is unpaid parental leave?

What is unpaid parental leave?

Unpaid parental leave is time off that employees that qualify can take. More specifically, it allows them to take unpaid time off, in order to look after their child. This could be for a variety of reasons. Parents may want to spend time visiting family with their kids, or simply spend more time with their kids.

Parents could take unpaid parental leave to browse new potential schools for their children, or help them get used to a new arrangement you made for childcare. However, it could simply be that they would like to be with their children more.

As an employee, you have employment rights. If you take unpaid parental leave, you retain your employment rights. In fact, this includes right for holidays, a right for pay, a right to go back to work, and more.

You may have done a birth or adoption. National insurance is important for disability leaving. If you are not eligible for shared parental leave, you could get a number of week of parental leave.

If you return to the same job, you could be eligible for a child up to their 18th birthday. Otherwise, you could get maternity leave, adoption leave, time off work or annual leave. Disability living is hard, but you could be eligible throughout the year continuously. You may not learn more through email address.

Unpaid parental leave eligibility: do I qualify?

You may qualify for unpaid parental leave. In fact, you need to be an employee. Furthermore, all of the following need to be true for you:

  • The child you are taking leave for is over 18 years old;
  • You are not a foster parent (you can take unpaid parental leave if you are a foster parent and got parental responsibilities for the child through the courts);
  • You are not considered a ‘worker’ or ‘self-employed‘ (for example, you do not qualify if you are a contractor or agency worker);
  • The adoption certificate or birth certificate of your child names you as a parent, or you are expecting to acquire parental responsibilities for the child soon;
  • Lastly, you have worked for your employer for longer than one year.

Your employer may ask you for certain documents. For example, they may ask you to show them the birth certificate that names you as a parent. Then, they can do this, as long as it’s reasonable. For example, not reasonable would be asking for documents every single time that you try to take leave. 

Someone at your work may not be eligible. Then, you could be able to give them unpaid parental leave. In fact, this could be possible with your employer. In order to see if that is the case, check the staff handbook for your company.

What other benefits could I get?

If you are expecting children or already have children, there are a number of benefits you could receive. For example, you could be eligible for paid leave. This includes maternity, adoption and paternity leave. In fact, you could also receive the pay associated with each benefit.

Additionally, you could receive benefits such as Child Benefit. In fact, you may claim Child Benefit if you have children. Then, if you qualify, you could receive the following:

Child Benefit rates in 2022
Who payments will be received for Weekly rate
Either the older or only child £21.15
Additional children £14 (this amount is per additional individual children)

If you are unsure what you are eligible for, Your Benefits can help. Indeed, we provide a number of articles on the benefits that you could be eligible for. Do not hesitate to read them to learn more.

Furthermore, we provide a free simulator to who you all the benefits you are entitled to. In fact, you could be missing out on a number of financial aid. To remedy this, do not hesitate to use our free simulator.

You could be eligible for benefits like maternity allowance or working tax credit. If you are working, have children, or both, it’s important you know everything that you are entitled to. Indeed, otherwise, you could miss out on a number of payments that you could otherwise receive.

Unpaid parental leave request: what is the notice period?

There is a certain notice period that you need to respect in order to get unpaid parental leave. More specifically, this notice period is 21 days. In fact, this is 21 days prior to when you want your first day of unpaid parental leave to start.

Your partner and yourself may be adopting a child, or expecting one. In this case, your notice is still 21 days. More specifically, it is 21 days prior to the expected birth date, or the week on which the child will start living with you.

Note that your unpaid parental leave request does not have to be made in writing. In fact, you can simply tell your employer. More specifically, you have to indicate on what dates your unpaid parental leave would start and stop.

Unpaid parental leave entitlement: what could I get?

Unpaid parental leave entitlement: what could I get?

As said before, you will not receive a pay during unpaid parental leave. Furthermore, you could take up to 18 weeks for every (adopted) child that you have. In fact, this is until their 18th birthday

There is an annual limit to how much unpaid leave a parent is able to take for each one of their children. More specifically, this is 4 weeks. However, an employer can agree to give more leave if they desire.

You need to take your unpaid parental leave as entire weeks. Indeed, you may not take individual days off. However, this is unless your employer agrees to it. Additionally, if your child has a disability, you may take only individual days of unpaid parental leave off. 

Note that you do not need to take all your unpaid parental leave at one time. You may only take one week at a time, and keep your remaining weeks for a later date. 

What counts as one week? What counts as one week is not typically 7 days. Instead, it is the number of days that you typically work during a period of 7 days. If you work irregular hours, you need to take the total number of days that you work in a year, and then divide it by 52.

You may work 4 days a week. If this is the case, you may take 4 days off per week. In total, you have 4 week of unpaid leave you can take yearly. That would be 16 days you can take off work in total. Furthermore, you can take 18 weeks off until your child is 18 years old. For you, that would be 72 days

Lastly, the 18 weeks do not reset if you work a new job. Indeed, you may have taken 4 weeks off with one employer. Then, if you change employer, you still have 14 weeks remaining.

Can my employer delay my leave?

Your employer could be able to delay your leave. However, if they decide to do this, they must indicate the reason for which they chose to do it. Note that they may not be able to delay your leave if certain things apply.

They cannot delay your leave if it would mean that you miss out on your leave because you will not be eligible later. For example, this is the case if your leave would be delayed until after your child turns 18 years old. Additionally, they cannot delay your leave if it is directly after you adopt or your child is born.

Additionally, for any other situation, your employer need a ‘significant reason‘ in order to delay your leave. If they cannot supply one, they cannot delay your leave.

However, it could be that your employer is able to delay your unpaid parental leave. Then, they will not be able to change how much leave you will get. Additionally, they will need to give an alternative start date, no later than 6 months after the date that you asked for.

Lastly, they need to give you a written response as to why they delayed your unpaid parental leave. More specifically, they need to give you this no later than 7 days after you made your unpaid parental leave request.

Robin is a writer for Your Benefits, writing about aids that people may be entitled to. He is currently working on his Master in journalism at the Institut Supérieur de Formation au Journalisme in Lille.

Ask our experts a question

Your questions
  • JanDainville

    I’m currently on sick leave long term illness and I have recieved SSP1 . I now decided to leave work. But my sick note runs out next month. Will I have to give them the time of notice

    • Robin


      Yes, you should give your employer notice.

      Hope this helps,

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