Get In Touch
Employment for Individuals

Shared Parental Leave, Parental Leave & Other Family Friendly Rights

Susie Al-Qassab
Susie Al‑Qassab
Image coming soon - Private
Natalie Wellock
Ellen Clabburn
Ellen Clabburn
Alexandra Pekanac
Alexandra Pecanac

Starting a family should be a happy and joyful time, however, this life-changing event can be made stressful if your employer isn’t supportive.

Parents and other individuals who are responsible for caring for dependants whilst working have a number of legal protections.

Family friendly rights have developed over recent years, and are no longer centred entirely on mothers and rights relating to pregnancy and maternity leave. More fathers than ever are taking on caring responsibilities for their children, and more same sex couples are having children, and more couples are adopting or using the surrogacy route, thus increasing the importance of family friendly rights. Ethical employers see the benefit in having family friendly policies, which promote employee well being, resulting in happier families, greater employee satisfaction and talent retention.

Your statutory rights

By law, eligible employees who are parents or who are responsible for caring for dependants whilst working are entitled to a number of statutory rights, including:

  • Shared parental leave and pay
  • Ordinary parental leave
  • Emergency time off for dependants
  • The right to request flexible working
  • Parental bereavement leave

This section deals with everything except flexible working, so if you want more information about this please click here.

If you want information about maternity leave and pay, please click here.

If you want information about paternity leave and pay, please click here.


Contact our specialist employment lawyers on
or request a call back.
Back to top

How do I get legal assistance?

Speak to our knowledgeable team

If you’re concerned about how your employer is treating you, then we will advise you on whether or not you may be eligible for certain rights and how you can exercise those rights.

Representing your interests

Your case will be allocated to the most appropriate lawyer for your circumstances. Your lawyer will be able to consider your situation and advise you on how best to protect your position and secure the outcome you want.

Funding options

We’ll ensure you’re provided with clear information on costs. You may have the benefit of alternative funding through your legal expenses insurance provider or trade union. If you don’t, we’ll be able to provide you with clear and upfront cost estimates to ensure you remain in control of your costs at every stage.

"It was amazing. They gave me all the knowledge and cared about my best interest."

Back to top

What outcomes can I expect?

Easily contactable

Our dedicated employment law legal team are always on hand to provide legal advice on your maternity, paternity, adoption, or parental leave rights. We pride ourselves on always being available to speak to our clients about their queries and worries.


We can help you to resolve disputes with your employer through discussion where possible, or we can take legal action against your employer to enforce your rights. If you’re discriminated against or victimised for exercising your rights, we’ll fight your corner.

Contact our specialist team on
or request a call back.
Back to top

Featured case

Hodge Jones & Allen negotiated and secured exit package for client

Prior to returning from maternity, our client was informed she was at risk of redundancy. We challenged the redundancy, which we considered to be a sham and assisted her in raising a grievance, in which we set out her legal claims for discrimination. By protecting her position and clearly setting out her possible legal claims, we negotiated with her employer, and secured an exit package, which enabled our client to leave with a very favourable compensation package.


Back to top

Frequently asked questions

How does shared parental leave work & who's entitled?

Shared parental leave gives parents more flexibility over how they share child care responsibilities, allowing eligible mothers and partners to share up to 50 weeks leave (following 2 weeks of compulsory maternity leave, which must be taken by the mother) and up to 37 weeks pay.  Shared parental leave applies to the mother, father, the husband or partner of the mother, and also applies in relation to adoption.

Further details about the right to shared parental leave can be found on the government website.


What is ordinary parental leave?

Ordinary parental leave allows eligible employees to take up to 18 weeks unpaid leave at any time for each of their children before their child’s 18th birthday. Employees must have at least one year’s continuous service in order to be eligible for ordinary parental leave, and must give their employer at least 21 days’ notice of the period they wish to take off (there are specific rules about the amount of time which can be taken in one go). Leave can be delayed by employers in certain circumstances.

Further details about the right to ordinary parental leave can be found on the government website.


Can I take time off for dependants?

Employees are allowed a reasonable amount of (unpaid) time off for dependants in the following circumstances:

  • To provide assistance when a dependant falls ill, gives birth or is injured or assaulted
  • In order to arrange care for a dependant who is ill or injured
  • To deal with practical arrangements following the death of a dependant
  • To deal with unexpected disruption or termination of care arrangements for a dependant
  • To deal with an incident which involves a child which occurs unexpectedly during school hours

It is generally regarded as a right to deal with emergency/unforeseen situations and is very limited in duration.

A dependant can be a child, but also covers others e.g. parents and grandparents. The right to take time off for dependants is a day one right, meaning that you have the right irrespective of your length of service.

Further details about the right to time off for dependants can be found on the government website.


Further Reading
View all

"They provided me with advice and kept me informed of any changes. I liked how quick and clear the communication between me and my solicitor was. I’m happy with the end results and I would definitely recommend them!"