Current position

Parents of children under the age of five each have the right to take up to 13 weeks unpaid parental leave between the child’s birth and their fifth birthday. Adoptive parents are each entitled to 13 weeks unpaid parental leave until the fifth anniversary of the adoption, or until the child’s 18th birthday, whichever comes first.

Parents of disabled children are entitled to up to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave to be taken up to the child’s 18th birthday. The right only applies to employees who have been employed for at least one year.

Changes from March 2013

In March 2013, unpaid parental leave will increase from 13 to 18 weeks. From 2015, each parent will have the right to up to 18 weeks unpaid parental leave for each child under the age of 18.

New system of paid, shared parental leave

From 2015, parents will be able to share between them up to 50 weeks of parental leave.

Maternity leave – currently 52 weeks – will stay as the default position for all employed women. Women who are currently eligible to receive statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance will continue to be able to do so.

However, where the mother and her partner (husband, civil partner or partner, including same-sex) meet certain qualifying criteria, the mother will be able to choose to stop her maternity leave and pay, or commit herself to ending it at a future date, and share the untaken balance of maternity leave and pay as flexible parental leave and pay with her partner.

Flexible parental leave will not be able to exceed the balance of untaken maternity leave, and the amount of statutory flexible parental pay will not exceed the balance of untaken statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance available when the woman returns or commits herself to return to work.

The new system will allow a mother to return to work before her maternity leave ends, and she will not lose the remainder of her leave, as her partner can take it.



Nicky Ackerley BA(Hons)

Nicky Ackerley HR Support is owned by Nicky Ackerley who has a BA (Hons) Business Studies Degree, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and who has been a practising HR manager for over 20 years. HR Support Consultancy has provided the BVNA's Industrial Relations Service since it began in 2002.

• VOL 28 • March 2013 • Veterinary Nursing Journal