Employer's response

The employer’s response to an employee wanting to take parental leave

When an employee lets their employer know they’ll be taking parental leave, the employer has seven days to tell the employee if they need any more information. If they do need more information, then the employee must give this within 14 days of being asked for it.

When the employer has all the information, they have to formally reply to the employee within 21 days.

The employer will choose the correct form and reply to the employee saying:

  • if they can take parental leave and, if not, the reasons why. An employer can’t decline leave but if they do, the employee can ask the Labour Inspectorate for help.
  • the main legal rights and obligations the employee has, especially about when they can start leave
  • if the employee’s job can be kept open. If it can’t, the form letter advises that the employee can disagree with this and also that the employee will have preference for similar jobs for 26 weeks after the end of their parental leave. 

Protecting your job during pregnancy or parental leave has more information.

Employer’s confirmation of leave

Within 21 days of the employee going on leave, the employer must write to the employee confirming the arrangements. The letter must include:

  • the date the employee’s parental leave will end, and
  • either the date they return to work (if their job is being kept open) or the date the period of preference starts, and
  • a reminder that if their job is being kept open, the employee needs to write and tell their employer what they are going to do at least 21 days before they are due to return from parental leave, and
  • the circumstances in which the employee can return to work early. 

Replacing employees on parental leave

While an employee is on parental leave, employers have some choices as to how to get their work done. They can:

  • redistribute the work among existing staff (being aware of health and safety implications and not overloading other workers)
  • hire a contractor
  • hire an agency temp
  • hire a temporary employee on a fixed-term agreement. The replacement employee’s employment agreement must state that they are employed on a temporary basis to replace someone on parental leave, and that the person on leave may return from leave early (in which case the employer may give the employee at least their notice period in the employment agreement that their fixed term employment agreement will end early).

An employee on parental leave must tell their employer in writing at least 21 days before the end of their leave if the employee is returning to work.

Returning to work/Ending of parental leave has more about employees returning to work.

Other matters employees and employers should think about

  • additional provisions regarding parental leave or parental leave payments in the employee’s employment agreement, or in workplace policies.
  • responsibilities under the health and safety in employment legislation.

Role of a principal contractor in parental leave

A principal contractor doesn’t have any responsibilities to sub-contractors in relation to parental leave or parental leave payments. To get a parental leave payment, a parent must meet the criteria as either an employee or a self-employed person. 

If the person is an employee, then their employer has the responsibility to provide parental leave and must fill in the employer section of the application form for a parental leave payment.

If the applicant is self-employed, they decide for themselves when to take time off from their business, and must declare their status as a self-employed person.

Eligibility – who can take it has more information.

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