Are your employees asking for unpaid parental leave during the holidays?

According to a survey, 27% of parents spend up to £800 on holiday clubs this summer, while more than half spend between £50 and £450 a week on nurseries and after-school clubs. 41% of the 1,500 working parents surveyed were unaware of their legal right to take unpaid parental leave, and three-quarters had never used the entitlement, highlighting a lack of understanding or awareness among employees.

Unpaid parental leave is available to parents who have been with the same employer for a year or more. It entitles them to take up to four weeks’ unpaid leave a year in blocks of one week, up to a maximum of 18 weeks for each child, up to the age of 18.

Yet, amongst those who were aware, half of men and nearly one-third of women were concerned about the impact on their career of taking unpaid leave, while 39% were worried that taking additional time off would be perceived negatively by their employer and colleagues.

Increasing employees’ awareness of their entitlements could lead to benefits for the employer as those parents who feel that they have been given flexibility are likely to be more productive and engaged at work.

Employers should ensure that unpaid parental leave is covered within the employment handbook, with a procedure for applying for and being granted, unpaid leave at work.

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