Other types of parental or dependents' leave

Other forms of parental or family leave include unpaid parental leave, time off for family emergencies or parental bereavement leave.

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Unpaid parental leave

Statutory parental leave is available if you are an employee and have worked for your employer for at least a year and want or need to take time off work to look after your child. It is available to parents or anyone else who has formal parental responsibility for the child (such as grandparents).  

The child must be under 18.  

Statutory parental leave is unpaid.  

Each parent or person with parental responsibility can take up to 18 weeks of parental leave in total for each child. You must take it in blocks of one week.   

You must give your employer notice of at least 21 days that you intend to take leave.  

So long as you are eligible for parental leave your employer cannot refuse your request, but can postpone the leave for up to six months if it would be particularly disruptive for the business for you to take it at the time planned.  

Your employer cannot postpone parental leave if you plan to take it immediately after the birth of your child or their placement for adoption, or if the postponement would take it beyond your child’s 18th birthday.  

Your terms and conditions, except for pay, remain the same during parental leave and the leave counts towards your continuous service for the purpose of preserving your employment rights.  

On return from parental leave, if you took four weeks or less leave you are entitled to the same job you had before you were absent. If you took more than four weeks, you are entitled to the same job or, if that is not reasonably practicable, to a similar job with at least the same status, terms and conditions.  

Leave for family emergencies

If you are an employee you are entitled to take unpaid time off work in certain emergency situations: 

  • to provide assistance when a dependant falls ill, gives birth or is injured or assaulted
  • to make arrangements to provide care for a dependant who falls ill or is injured, 
  • as a result of the death of a dependant (for example, to make funeral arrangements),
  • because care arrangements are unexpectedly disrupted or terminated (for example, your childminder falls ill), or
  • to deal with an incident involving your child while they are at school.

A dependant is:

  • the employee’s spouse or civil partner, child or parent,
  • someone who lives in the same household (but not an employee, tenant or lodger), or
  • someone who relies on them for help if they fall ill, are injured or assaulted, or relies on them to make care arrangements.

If you take emergency leave you must tell your employer as soon as reasonably practicable the reason for your absence and how long you expect to be absent, unless it is not possible to tell them until you are back at work.  

The amount of time you can take off is not fixed: it is what is reasonable to deal with those emergency circumstances. If the situation is ongoing, you will need to take another form of leave, such as parental leave, instead. 

Parental bereavement

An employee in England, Wales or Scotland whose child dies before the age of 18 or whose baby is stillborn after 24th week of pregnancy has a day one entitlement to two weeks’ paid leave.  

The leave can start on or after the date of the death or stillbirth and must finish within 56 weeks of that date.  

You can take two weeks together, two separate weeks or just one week of leave. A week is the number of days you normally work in a week.  

Northern Ireland provides parents with two weeks’ paid leave following the death of a child under 18. 

Carers of adults

There are limited statutory rights for employees who are carers of adults: 

Employees are entitled in certain situations to unpaid time off for family emergencies, as detailed above.

Like other employees, carers have a right to request flexible working.

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