Four million extra parents entitled to leave this summer

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Parents of school age children now have access to unpaid parental leave that could be utilised through the summer holidays, the TUC are reminding employers today.

Following new legislation introduced this April, parents who have been with their current employer for a minimum of one year are entitled to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave per child, which can be taken any time up to the child’s 18th birthday. This was previously only offered to workers with children under the age of five.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Many parents face huge difficulties combining work with childcare during the school holidays. Many will be using paid annual leave to spend time with their children. But with school holidays lasting around 13 weeks and workers entitled to less than six weeks’ paid holiday a year, working parents need more support.

“Our message to employers is to be as supportive as they can when their staff request parental leave or need changes in their working hours over the summer holidays.”

The TUC believes that an additional four million working parents will be included in this workplace advantage, compared to the three million who had access when it just applied to pre-school children and disabled children.

Unpaid parental leave needs to be taken in weekly blocks, unless the employer agrees to a shorter period, and must be requested 21 days in advance.

With schools breaking up for the summer holidays in the next couple of weeks, parents who might want to use this unpaid time off work should let their employers know as soon as possible.

This statutory entitlement could be a welcome asset for parents who struggle to find suitable and affordable holiday care schemes for their children during school holidays.

A recent report on sufficiency of childcare places identified holiday childcare as one of the most significant shortages, with 39 local authorities in England and Wales saying they have insufficient places for children in their area. Last summer, one in three working parents reported that they couldn’t find affordable holiday childcare and one in eight said they had given up work to look after their children.

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