Parental leave for parents of disabled children
F127 – Purpose of parental leave
The purpose of parental leave is to care for a disabled child, for example:
- to accompany the child during a stay in hospital
- to take the child to see a specialist
- to inspect a new school
- to settle the child into new childcare arrangements
- to enable a family to spend more time together, ie taking the child to stay with grandparents
Parental Leave is not intended to be used as short-term emergency leave. Special Leave – Urgent Personal Circumstances (Regulation F41)/annual leave may be appropriate in such circumstances.
Any misuse of the scheme may be dealt with under the disciplinary procedure. The following is an example of what could constitute misuse:
- taking leave for purposes other than caring for a child – this will generally be in circumstances where someone other than the employee is taking primary responsibility for the child
- making a false statement as to entitlement to parental leave – for example the age of the child, the relationship with the child or the amount of parental leave taken with a previous employer
F128 – Definition of disabled child
For the purposes of parental leave, a disabled child is one in respect of whom Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is payable (a benefit payable by Social Security).
F129 – Who is eligible for parental leave
To qualify for parental leave a civil servant must have been continuously employed for at least 12 months.
A civil servant must have, or expect to have, responsibility for a disabled child (under the age of 18), that is, either:
- have ‘parental responsibility’ for the child, or
- be registered as the child’s father in the register of births
The following persons have ‘parental responsibility’ for a child:
- the mother
- the father, if he is or was married to the mother, or if parental responsibility is given to him by a court order or a formal agreement with the mother
- a guardian appointed by the court, or by a deceased parent
- a person in favour of whom a residence order is made
If the child is adopted the adoptive parents have parental responsibility (not the natural parents).
The disabled child does not need to be living with the officer for the officer to be entitled to parental leave.
When first requesting parental leave, the officer will be asked to declare how much (if any) parental leave they have already taken with previous employers, and will be required to provide confirmation from Social Security that disability living allowance (DLA) is payable in respect of the child.
This information will not be required thereafter, unless there is a question of whether DLA is still payable in respect of the child. If the officer is new to the Civil Service, he/she will be asked what amount of Parental Leave has been taken with previous employers, and may carry forward any unused entitlement to leave from the previous employment, but must work for the Civil Service for at least 12 months before any further leave can be taken.
F130 – Parental leave
A qualifying civil servant may take up to 18 weeks parental leave in total, in respect of a disabled child, to be taken before the child’s 18th birthday.
If a civil servant has responsibility for more than 1 disabled child, he or she can take up to 18 weeks’ leave in all in respect of each child.
The maximum amount of leave that can be taken in any one year (12 month period beginning when the civil servant first became entitled to take parental leave) is 4 weeks for each disabled child. The leave can be taken as individual days and relevant notice requirements must be met.
F131 – Notice periods
Parental leave is not intended to be used as short-term emergency leave, therefore at least 21 days’ notice should be given to the line manager (if practicable, if not then as soon as is reasonably practicable), giving start and end dates, before leave can be taken.
F132 – Requesting parental leave
When a civil servant makes a request to the line manager for parental leave in accordance with the relevant notice requirements, the line manager, having ascertained the civil servant’s eligibility and any previous leave taken, will record the leave and notify Pay Section and the Office of Human Resources accordingly (template application/acknowledgement form attached at Annex F15 for this purpose)
F133 – Timing of parental leave
Parental leave can be taken immediately before or after a period of maternity leave, paternity leave or adoption leave, provided that notice requirements are met.
F134 – Postponement of parental leave
The department will endeavour to meet any request for parental leave, however, if it is deemed the civil servant’s absence would unduly disrupt the department, the line manager will discuss the issue with the civil servant and can postpone the leave for up to 6 months after the requested start date.
This postponement will be confirmed in writing by the line manager, not later than 7 days after the civil servant’s notice to take leave was given, stating the reason for the postponement and setting out the new dates for parental leave (being the same length as requested, not more than 6 months after requested start date and finish before the child’s 18th birthday).
F135 – Payment relating to parental leave
All parental leave taken will be unpaid leave. In urgent circumstances, there may be provision for paid special leave at the discretion of the Accounting Officer (see Regulation F41 – Urgent personal circumstances)
F136 – Annual leave and public holidays during parental leave
Contractual annual leave allowance will not accrue during periods of unpaid parental leave (see Regulation F11).
Public and privilege holidays falling during unpaid leave will be unpaid.
F137 – Superannuation
Unpaid Parental Leave does not reckon for the calculation of pension benefits; but does count as qualifying service.
Note: Regulations F138 and F139 are blank.