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Parents: Your Right to 18 Weeks of Unpaid Parental Leave

Parents: Your Right to 18 Weeks of Unpaid Parental Leave

Our statutory maternity leave & pay guide from August 2021 briefly touched upon a parent’s right to unpaid parental leave. As promised, we now come back to the topic in more detail, below.

Employed parents are entitled to take up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave before their child reaches the age of 18.Your Right to Unpaid Parental Leave

It’s fair to say that many employed parents* in the UK are unaware of their right to take parental leave on an unpaid basis. In fact, employees are entitled to take up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave before their child reaches the age of 18. That’s significant time off in addition to any standard annual leave. It’s per child too.

*While we use the term “parents”, the rules apply to those with ‘parental responsibility’ over the child. This includes parents who are named on the child’s birth certificate or adoption certificate, or those who officially have, or expect to have, parental responsibility(i)  over the child. Foster parents are not eligible unless they are legally recognised as having parental responsibility e.g. via a successful UK court application.

Why Take Unpaid Parental Leave?

Parenting is an incredibly important task. However, it’s not always easy for working parents to find enough family time with their children, even at important milestones in their children’s lives. Aside from holidays and breaks, sometimes parents simply need additional time off to gain necessary time with, or for, their children. Unpaid parental leave can be useful when appraising nurseries, pre-schools, schools and further education settings.For example, there may come a time when parents need to look at nurseries, pre-schools, primary and secondary schools and, as children approach their mid teens, further education settings. Other reasons to take time off might include time for parents to visit relatives with the children, or to investigate extra-curricular activities such as sports clubs, or simply to spend quality time with their children.

The good news is that most parents who are employees in the UK are entitled to additional time off, on an unpaid basis, from their employer. Although it’s unpaid leave, it can be an absolute Godsend to busy parents, who may well appreciate the time off even if they have to go without pay during their absence. Rules apply, of course, but it’s fair to say that many parents do not make the most of this opportunity.

How Much Unpaid Leave Are Parents Entitled To?

Parents can take 18 weeks of unpaid leave per child until the child reaches the age of 18. The maximum they can take in any one year is 4 weeks (again, per child) unless their employer agrees to more. Unpaid parental leave must be taken in whole weeks rather than sporadic days. Should an employee only work for, say, 4 days per week, then their week off is essentially the same as that. Should their working pattern be more random, then an average of how many days they work per week is computed from working times over the whole year.

What if Parents Change Jobs?

Taking unpaid leave may be particularly useful when maternity or paternity leave comes to an end.It doesn’t really matter if you change jobs. The rules around unpaid parental leave apply in relation to your child(ren); not your employer. So, if you change jobs and have already used up 9 weeks of unpaid leave for one child during your previous job, then you can still use another 9 weeks, so long as it’s taken before your child reaches the age of 18.

What Other Rules Apply Around Eligibility?

In addition to the rules discussed above, an eligible parent must have been employed by their current employer for at least one year before making a claim. They must be an employee (not a contractor/sub-contractor, agency worker, ‘worker’ or self-employed).

Employers have a right to ask to see a birth certificate or other proof showing parental responsibility over the child in question. And, of course, the child for whom the claim is being made must be under 18.

Claiming Unpaid Parental Leave

Just 3 weeks' notice must be given to the employer, but they can postpone it for up to six months if there is good reason to do so.To claim a period of unpaid parental leave, just 21 days (3 weeks) of notice must be given to the employer and this must state the start and finish dates. It can be confirmed verbally although employers may request the notice in writing.

Given that 3 weeks’ notice is not long in the business world, an employer has the right to request a postponement of the unpaid parental leave if there is a fair reason for doing so. An example would be where such leave would cause significant disruption to the smooth running of the business — perhaps suitable cover cannot be arranged in time. However, in such a scenario, the employer must confirm in writing, within a week of the original request, why the leave is being denied. They must also suggest a new date for it to begin. This must be no later than 6 months after the original date and must be for the same number of weeks originally requested.

Make the Most of Your Parental Leave Allowance

So, all in all, it’s pretty straight forward to get extra leave off work to spend with, or for, your children. Although this particular type of leave is unpaid, sometimes time is the most precious commodity of all — often far more important than money. There’s also only one chance to make the most of your child’s childhood, so unpaid leave is worth thinking about from time to time, while you still have rights to it under UK employment law.

A Wonderful Childcare Nursery in Streatham, SW16

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamWe hope that the information brought to you here is useful. We are Little Cedars, a wonderful nursery in Streatham, supplying an outstanding childcare service in and around Streatham, Streatham Common, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting and Balham.  Why not book a visit with your child to see the setting in action, register for a place, or contact us to ask any questions — we’ll be happy to help.

Rough Guide to Teething

Rough Guide to Teething

Teething can be an uncomfortable and painful stage for babiesTeething can be an uncomfortable and painful stage for babies. As teeth start to come through, gums can become sore. Because of this, the little ones can become irritable and emotional, without really understanding why they’re feeling as they do. Every parent will know that having an irritable, tearful baby can be stressful for parents as well as for the baby. With all of this in mind, our Rough Guide to Teething should help parents to help their babies through this difficult stage.

When Does Teething Start?

Teething is the process of the milk teeth beginning to “erupt” (protrude) through the gums into plain sight. It usually begins when children reach the age of about 6 months. It varies, though, with some children even being born with one or more teeth. Usually, though, teething follows a general pattern, as follows:

  • First, the central incisors in the lower jaw are usually the first teeth to appear. This normally happens at the age of about 6 to 10 months.
  • The upper central incisors follow closely behind, at 8 to 12 months on average.
  • Between 9 and 13 months of age, the top lateral incisors usually come through with the those in the lower jaw appearing between 10 and 16 months of age.
  • The first upper molars come through between the ages of 13 and 19 months, with the first lower molars appearing from 14 to 18 months of age.
  • The canine teeth usually appear between 16 and 22 months of age in the upper jaw and between 17 and 23 months in the lower.
  • Finally, the second molars usually come through between 23 and 31 months of age in the lower jaw and between 25 and 33 months of age in the upper.

For each tooth that erupts, the teething process takes about 8 days, including roughly 4 days before the tooth is visibly protruding through the gum and 4 days where it moves through and into plain sight. During the 8 days, an “eruption cyst” (a bluey-grey colouration) may be visible on the gum in the area concerned. Of course, all of this can be uncomfortable and painful for the baby, particularly when the larger, back teeth come through — but it’s something we all go through. Ultimately, babies will usually end up with 10 milk teeth in the upper jaw and 10 in the lower by the time they’re 2½ to 3 years of age.

What are the Signs of Teething?

Rubbing ears can be a sign your toddler or baby is teethingAlong with the bluish-grey colouration in the gums mentioned above, other signs of a teething baby include drooling, sore-looking gums, red cheeks, the baby being tearful, rubbing their ears or chewing hands/toys more than usual. If the baby does drool, ensure that their faces are regularly wiped so as to avoid painful rashes causing further discomfort.

How Can You Help a Teething Baby?

Parents can help teething babies in several ways. Distraction is a powerful tool, so anything that will distract the baby from their discomfort can help — for example, playing with the infant.

If the baby or toddler is chewing things, giving them a commercially-available teething ring can give you greater control over exactly what they are chewing and allow you to ensure that you are keeping it clean for them. Always follow safety instructions, of course, and buy only from an appropriate, high quality, safe source.

The NHS also suggests giving teething children (6 months to 1 year or older) sticks of apple, carrot, breadsticks or bread crusts to chew on but this must be done under close adult supervision otherwise they could be a potential choking hazard.

Teething can be painful for the baby, so gently massaging affected areas of the baby’s gum with a clean finger can also soothe them to an extent.

Beware Unlicensed Teething Gels

Some parents may be tempted to buy Teething Gel for their infant. The NHS warns parents to be careful if doing so, as there are some dangerous products out there, particularly on the Internet and particularly when it comes to ‘homeopathic’ teething products. They state that there is no known evidence to suggest that teething gels work in any case, whether they’re licensed, unlicensed or homeopathic gels. However, if parents do decide to use them, they should only purchase them from proper UK pharmacies whilst ensuring that the gels are licensed for use in the UK. NHS information about the potential dangers of teething products, particularly homeopathic ones, can be found here.

Teeth Showing? Start Brushing!

Start brushing as soon as the first tooth has appearedOnce your baby has one or more teeth showing through the gum, you should start brushing their teeth right away. This typically happens at the age of about 6 months. Take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Brushing Teeth for Babies & Children for much more information, including when to start, how to do it, what fluoride content the toothpaste should have, what to use as a brush — and much more.

Share if you Found This Useful

If you found this Rough Guide to Teething useful, please feel free to share it on social media or on other sites. You can link to this article, bookmark it in your browser or share this link in your social media accounts so more babies can benefit. Thank you.

We are a High Quality Nursery in Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown & BalhamIf you are looking for outstanding nurseries in Streatham, please do consider Little Cedars Nursery. We are a nursery and pre-school, offering the very best childcare services in the Streatham, Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Tooting, Furzedown and Balham areas around London SW16. For a nursery place for your baby, toddler or child under five, please get in touch via one of the contact options below:

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