The School Holidays – An Employer’s Nightmare


The summer holidays are finally upon us, but it’s not just the parents who struggle with the stress of this time of year – it is also an employer’s nightmare.

The summer holidays can be a busy and popular time for annual leave requests; employers are trying to keep the business running efficiently and employees are doing their best to juggle childcare with work, school holidays and other commitments.  Trying to balance everyone’s needs is a tricky task, to say the least.

Employers may struggle to agree upon and approve all annual leave requests, and, as an employer, you may find that your staff members may not have enough annual leave to cope with childcare. 

As an employer, how do you deal with such requests? And, with modern technology now forming part of our daily lives, are there other options such as flexible working or working from home that can be brought to the table as possibilities?

Many working parents are unaware of another option available to them – parental leave.

Parental Leave

Parental leave is a form of statutory unpaid leave available to working parents; it can be flexible in terms of the time at which it is taken and the way in which it may be split up into shortened periods.

Parents with a least one year’s service with an employer will qualify for 18 weeks of unpaid leave per child after new rules were introduced in 2015.  This can also be shared between the mother and father.  In summary, all eligible employees may:

  • Take a total of 18 weeks’ unpaid leave for each child for the purpose of caring for the child.
  • Take parental leave at any time before the child’s 18th birthday.
  • Return to the same job after the expiry of the Leave.

It is important to stress that the purpose of leave should only be used for caring for a child such as spending more time with the children, looking at new schools or settling a child into new childcare arrangements.

Parental leave must be taken as whole weeks rather than individual days unless the employer agrees otherwise, or if your child is disabled. 

how does an employee notify their employer regarding parental leave?

An employee must give their employer at least 21 days’ notice of their intention to take parental leave.  The notice must clearly set out the dates of when the leave period will begin and end.

Can an employer refuse a parental leave request?

Unless the employee wishes to take parental leave immediately after the birth of a child, an employer can only look to postpone parental leave if there is a good business reason to do so.  An employer must explain in writing within 7 days of the original request being made as to why the request has been refused. Parental leave can be postponed for a maximum of 6 months.  Employers should be fair and consistent with all staff when considering requests.

We would recommend that you review your parental leave policy at work as you may place certain limitations regarding how parental leave is taken.

More information

For more information, please contact Nadia Fabri in our Employment Law Team or call 01708 229444 for advice or if you have any queries on parental leave and working parents’ rights. 

This article was written by Nadia Fabri, our Employment Law Solicitor at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. The law may have changed since this article was published. This article is based on the law as of July 2017.


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Would you like to know more?

For help and advice, talk to a member of our team. They can advise on the best options in your matter.

Call: 01708 229 444 Email us

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