Spotlight On: Family Friendly Rights

For busy employers, it can be difficult keeping up to date with employment law, especially areas that you don’t necessarily encounter frequently.

With that in mind we thought it would be helpful to put together a brief reminder of some of the family friendly rights that employers may be less familiar with so that you can be prepared if one of these situations arises in your organisation.

Time off to Accompany a Pregnant Woman to Ante-Natal Appointments

It is not just pregnant employees who have a right to time off to attend ante-natal appointments.

Expectant fathers and the pregnant woman’s spouse, partner or civil partner are entitled to take time off work to accompany her to a maximum of two antenatal appointments. The maximum amount of time off they are entitled to is 6 hours and 30 minutes per appointment.

Those accompanying a pregnant woman to an ante-natal appointment do not have a statutory right to be paid for the time off.

Adoption Leave

Employees who have been matched with a child may take up to 52 weeks adoption leave, and may be entitled to 39 weeks of statutory adoption pay. If a couple jointly adopt a child, one may take adoption leave and the other parent may be able to take paternity leave or shared parental leave if the qualifying criteria are met.

An employee who wishes to take adoption leave will usually need to inform their employer of their intention to take this no more than seven days after being notified by their adoption agency that they have been matched with a child for adoption.  They will need to tell the employer:

  • When the child is expected to be placed with them; and
  • When they want their adoption leave to start

Lloyds recommend asking an employee to complete an adoption leave plan as this enables both parties to ensure the necessary information is provided/received. If you would like an adoption plan for use in your organisation please contact your Employment Law Specialist who will be happy to help.

If you receive a request for adoption leave please contact Lloyds for advice on the facts of your case. There can be an entitlement to adoption leave in circumstances that you wouldn’t necessarily be aware of, such as some surrogacy cases or fostering for adoption cases where certain criteria are met.

Shared Parental Leave

Shared parental leave (SPL) is an optional form of leave available to eligible parents following the birth or adoption of a child. It offers a more flexible way for parents to take leave in the first year after the birth/placement of a child for adoption.

For parents to participate in the scheme the mother or adopter will need to end their maternity/adoption leave early, either by returning to work or usually by committing to ending the leave at a future date. The untaken leave will be available as SPL and any remaining pay will be available as shared parental pay.

The criteria employees must meet to be entitled to take SPL are relatively complex and include the following requirements:

  • To have been continuously employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth/matching date and
  • For the employee’s partner to earn a minimum amount and
  • To give the employer certain notices at least eight weeks before they wish to take SPL.

If you require further information regarding SPL or you receive a request for SPL from one of your employees, please contact your Employment Law Specialist who will be happy to help. We also have SPL forms available for you to use within your organisation.

Parental Leave

Whilst similarly named, parental leave is not to be confused with shared parental leave as they are two separate rights.

If employees qualify for parental leave they have the right to a period of unpaid leave to care for the child for whom they have or expect to have parental responsibility. The entitlement is to a maximum of 18 weeks parental leave per parent for each child.

In order to be able to take parental leave your employee must have:

  • One years’ continuity of service 
  • Have or expect to have responsibility for the child (in most cases this will be the child’s parents)
  • Be taking time off to care for the child

Parental leave can be used to cover things such as spending more time with the child, helping the child to get used to new childcare arrangements and looking at new schools. It can be taken up to the child’s 18th birthday.

Parental leave must be taken as whole weeks rather than individual days, unless the employer agrees otherwise or the employee’s child is disabled. Employees must give at least 21 days’ notice of any leave they wish to take and are restricted to taking no more than four weeks of parental leave per year for any one child (unless the employer agrees otherwise).

Employers can in certain circumstances postpone an employee’s requested parental leave. However, this is not something that should be done lightly. If you receive a request for parental leave from one of your employees you should contact Lloyds for advice.

For support with family friendly rights or any other employment law matters please contact Lloyds as we are here to help.


Please retain this Legal Update for reference as it forms part of our advice.  If you have a query regarding this update, or any other employment law related issue, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 CALL LLOYDS ON 0844 7700 656

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