I have had the privilege of being asked to write a blog for Mums Work.. this has kick-started me into getting my own blog up and running. Below is my first ‘blog’ of thoughts on the topic of ‘Parental Leave’.. enjoy…

As working mums we want to be able to do it all… successfully do a job we are passionate about, earn enough money to make it worthwhile, be there for our children when we can and when they need us, and for some of us we also want to try to be a decent wife or partner too.. but we all know it is not easy. Not easy at all. And we often complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day or enough days in the week.

Fortunately for us, the Government has recognised the importance of sometimes needing to be able to take some extra time off work to be with our children when we feel they need it most. It is called Parental Leave.

If you have one year’s continuous service with your employer then you are eligible to apply. Most employers would expect you to put your application in writing (and it’s a good way for you to keep a record of it anyway), and you should give at least 21 days’ notice of wanting to take the leave.

Parental Leave allows you to take 18 weeks unpaid leave for each child between the date of birth or adoption of the child and the date that the child turns 18 years of age. The leave must be taken in one-week blocks unless your employer agrees otherwise, so you wouldn’t normally use it to attend a school show here and a sports day there, but you could take 2 weeks off while a child adapts to starting school or a move to a new school. Or if a child is going into hospital for an operation, you could request to take time off to be with them. You can also apply to add it straight on to your maternity or adoption leave. You will be limited to taking a maximum of 4 weeks per child per year.

But can your employer say no to your application? If your employer feels that your absence will affect the business dramatically, then your employer can postpone the date of your leave for up to 6 months. However, your employer should put the decision in writing within 7 days of your application, should explain to you why the leave has been postponed and should confirm the date that the leave has been postponed until. The leave cannot be postponed a second time.

A word of caution though – bear in mind those people in your workplace who aren’t mums – they may wish they had the option to take some unpaid time off work. Tread carefully and be understanding of why they may feel slightly put out.

So, in summary… 1 years’ service with your employer, a total of 18 weeks unpaid leave allowance up to child’s 18th birthday, maximum 4 weeks per year, 21 days’ notice of leave in writing to your employer.

Being a working mum is still going to be tough..but why not plan ahead and put some dates in your diary for some much needed and well-earned time off with your children when they need you by their side the most.

For more information on being a working mum, why not visit www.mumswork.co.uk

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