If your child’s school is closed, your boss MUST give you time off

With the recent freezing temperatures and snowfall dominating the news in early December, what are the facts about parental leave when your child’s school is closed?

Parental leave is the legal right to take time off from work to look after your child or make arrangements for someone else to look after your child. Legally, employers are not required to pay workers taking parental leave but check with your employer what their policy is on this. Some may allow you to take holiday leave or make up your hours at a later date.  You can only take parental leave if you’ve been employed continuously for a year or more.

Biological, adoptive or step-parents qualify for statutory parental leave (as long as they have responsibility for the child) and are entitled to take up to 18 weeks parental leave per child up to their eighteenth birthday.

As long as it’s related to the care of your child, parental leave can be taken for any reason, e.g. accompanying your child during a stay in hospital, settling your child into new childcare arrangements or if your child’s school is closed because of bad weather.

You will have the legal right to return to your old job if you take less than 4 weeks’ parental leave in one block. If you take more than that in a block, you are entitled to return to the job you did before only if it is reasonably practicable. If it’s not, then your employer must give you a comparable and appropriate job.

Even if you don’t qualify for parental leave, you have the right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to deal with genuine emergencies involving people you care for. This is dependents leave and you qualify regardless of how long you have been working for your employer.

We are experts in employment law and members of the Employment Lawyers Association (ELA). Call us on 01425 275555 for advice, whether as an employee or employer or visit www.simpkinsand.co.uk.


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