Baby Care

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Shared Parental Leave

You may also be able to share up to 50 weeks of paid parental leave with a new baby’s other parent, even if you don’t live together. This helps you be more flexible in looking after your child during their first year. 

You may decide to take it in turns to take time off to look after your child. Or you might want to be off work at the same time.

You can take this type of time off if one parent is entitled to maternity leave and the other parent is an employee earning over a certain amount. You can take it any time after paternity leave and up to 52 weeks after the birth. If you take Shared Parental Leave first, you’ll lose the right to Statutory Paternity Leave.

Working this out can be complicated. Use the Shared Parental Leave calculator on or talk to us for advice.

Unpaid time off

You can take unpaid time off to look after a child who depends on you. This is called parental leave. You can use it to do things like:

  • Take more time off straight after paternity or adoption leave 
  • Spend more time with your baby or very young child
  • Look after your child during if they’re in hospital
  • Look at new schools
  • Help your child settle into new childcare arrangements
  • Spend more time with family – for example, visiting grandparents

You can take parental leave if:

  • You’ve been working for your employer for more than a year
  • Your child is under 18  
  • You’re named on the child’s birth or adoption certificate or have parental responsibility for them 

This kind of time off applies to your child, not your job. So if you change jobs and have unused parental leave, you can take it with you to your new job. 

Time off in an emergency

You also have the right to a reasonable amount of time off to deal with a family emergency. This would be something like your child being ill or injured, a problem with childcare or an incident at school. 

Your employer doesn’t have to pay you while you’re off with an emergency. But they shouldn’t penalise you, either.

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