Parents left in dark over rights to time off with the kids

Sep 12 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

The vast majority of working parents in the UK do not know they are entitled to take parental leave from work and so never ask, a survey has suggested.

The study by employment information firm Croner found more than half of HR professionals Ė 56 per cent Ė did not proactively make their staff aware of their right to parental leave.

Just 11 percent of HR departments actively encouraged parents to take the time off, with nearly a quarter not even fully aware themselves of parental leave rules.

A third feared allowing working parents time off could have a detrimental effect on their business.

Parents in the UK are entitled to apply for parental leave, which gives eligible employees with dependent children under the age of five (or under 18 if disabled) thirteen weeks' unpaid time off (or 18 weeks if disabled).

The Equal Opportunities Commission estimates that more than 3.7 million parents are entitled to apply for it.

Richard Smith, HR expert at Croner, said: "There is a strong business case for implementing parental leave beyond simply meeting the statutory requirements.

"Enabling staff to manage their career and family responsibilities can ultimately encourage them to feel more committed to the company, which can help improve retention.

"Lower absence is also likely, as parental leave allows employees to take time off needed to cope with family emergencies and commitments. An organisation which actively promotes parental leave is also attractive to potential employees," he added.