The most common reasons for employees to be absent from work are sickness, or annual leave.
However, there are various other types of absence that you may come across requests for. This document summarises the most frequently requested types of leave.

Parental Leave
Employees with at least one years’ service are entitled to parental leave (sometimes called “ordinary parental leave” or “unpaid parental leave”. The leave is unpaid and allows up to 18 weeks of parental leave for each child, until the child is 18 years old.

  • Leave must be:
    Taken in blocks of weeks
    A maximum of 4 weeks in any year for each child

Parental leave can only be taken for children for whom the employee has parental responsibility, or in cases of stepparents, where it is agreed between all parties.  There are no restrictions on what the leave can be used for, as long as it is to spend time with the child, and could
include things like:

  • Covering disruptions to childcare arrangements
    Spending time with the children
    Covering school holidays
    Providing care during illness
    Visiting relatives

Employees must give 21 days’ notice of their request to take leave, including start and end dates.

Employers cannot refuse, or completely cancel parental leave requests. However, if the dates will cause problems at work, they can postpone it for up to 6 months after the original date (as long as the child is still under 18 at that
time). The exception to being able to postpone leave is when it is being added to paternity leave.

Bereavement Leave
The only bereavement leave which is protected in law in the UK is Parental Bereavement Leave. This applies if an employee’s child dies before they reach the age of 18, or in the cases of stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. The leave gives parents 2 week’s leave for each child, which can either be a 2-week block, 2 separate weeks, or just 1 week. The leave must be taken within 56 weeks of the death or stillbirth. Subject to qualifying criteria, the leave may be paid, at the statutory rate.

Other types of bereavement leave are at the discretion of the employer.
Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, Shared Parental Leave
A common reason for absence is maternity, paternity (or adoption) leave, or Shared Parental Leave.
Maternity Leave is made up of Ordinary Maternity Leave (26 weeks) and Additional Maternity Leave (the last 26 weeks).

Employees do not have to take maternity leave, with the exception of 2 weeks after the birth (or 4 weeks for those who work in a factory).
The first 39 weeks of maternity leave are paid (at statutory rate unless the company offers enhanced pay), with the final 13 weeks unpaid. Adoption Leave arrangements and pay mirror those of maternity leave.

Paternity Leave is available for either 1 or 2 weeks and can only start after the birth (and must end within 56 days of the birth). Paternity Leave is paid at statutory rate. This is also available for adoption.

Shared Parental Leave – this leave applies where the parents share the leave, with a maximum of 52 weeks taken between both parents. The leave can be shared, or taken simultaneously, but the mother must take the statutory 2 (or 4) weeks following the birth. This also applies to adoption leave.

Leave for Antenatal Appointments
The following can take unpaid leave to accompany the mother to up to 2 antenatal appointments, at a maximum of 6.5 hours per appointment.

  • the baby’s father
    the expectant mother’s spouse or civil partner
    in a long-term relationship with the expectant mother
    the intended parent (if you’re having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement)

Jury Service
Employees who are called for jury service can claim expenses from the courts which compensates for loss of earnings, travel and expenses. Jury service generally lasts up to 10 days. Employers are not obliged to pay for jury service, however, can do at their discretion.

Time off for Dependants
Employees are entitled to “reasonable” time off to deal with emergencies involving dependants. There are no limits relating to how many times employees can request this, however if it is affecting their work this can be discussed with them by employers. The time off is unpaid, and only relates to unplanned and unforeseen emergencies (i.e. illness, accidents etc).

Compassionate Leave
This may be granted in occasions where time off for dependants is not applicable, but where an employee needs to deal with an emergency situation. This is generally unpaid leave.

HR Support and Training
If you need any support with any leave requests or situations, please contact us. We can also provide more information and / or training relating to any absence type.