90 days from today is Mon, 27 May 2024
18 April 2018
GMP Federation Equality Lead Ian Saunders explains the benefits of parental leave and why parents should consider taking it...
Parental Leave Positives
Parental Leave is a benefit available to all Police Officers, but few of us make use of it. I suspect the main reason for this is that it is unpaid leave – a concept that many cops have an issue with – but don’t let that put you off reading on. It is actually a very useful entitlement that might be right for you in some circumstances either now or in the future.
If you have children you are entitled to 18 weeks of unpaid leave for each child, which can be used anytime between their birth and their 18th birthday. Both parents get 18 weeks each for every child, and if you adopt you get it from date of adoption as well.
Parental leave can be used in order that you can “be absent from work … for the purpose of caring for that child” – and that is a very wide set of circumstances.
It could be that you are divorced or going through a separation and have unexpected caring responsibilities at short notice.
Your mind might initially turn to thinking about reducing your hours at work and requesting a flexible working plan, but if you have a sudden change of circumstances reducing your hours by taking this type of leave might be a better short- to medium-term option until things stabilise.
Benefits Of Parental Leave
An added benefit is that Parental Leave is reckonable for the purposes of annual leave entitlement.
If your domestic circumstances change very quickly and you are struggling to cope, taking one week of parental leave off each month for six to 12 months is likely to be a quicker and simpler solution than going to 75% hours and trying to negotiate a flexible working plan with the force.
A year on, the world might look very different and that is a better time to put in place long-term solutions. The other additional benefit for police officers is that for us, Parental Leave is very flexible.
For our police staff colleagues (and all other employees in the country) they can take a maximum of 4 weeks a year and it has to be in week-long blocks.
For police officers, there is no limit on the amount you can take in a year and you can take it in days rather than weeks.
Finally here is the cherry on top: Parental Leave is an “entitlement” that the Chief Constable “shall” grant you as long as you give 21 days’ notice of when you intend to take it.
Unlike your annual leave, which you make an application to take at a certain point, for Parental Leave you give notice to the force of when you are taking it.
Exigencies Of Duty
All types of leave in the police service (except maternity leave) are subject to exigencies of duty, but this is a very high threshold for the force to meet, and the force cannot deny a notification of intent to take Parental Leave, but can merely push it back until the exigency has passed.
I’ve used an example of a sudden need to take Parental Leave whilst explaining it in this article. However, as long as the need is there to look after a child then you too can use parental leave in a variety of circumstances if the need arises.
Finally, I bet a few of you (probably without children) are thinking “this doesn’t sound very fair on other people”.
And you are right – but it is not meant to be fair. When the Government legislated to provide this and other types of leave (for example, time off to care for dependants) it gave extra rights to people with children on purpose.
This does place a burden on employers: that too is deliberate and it is for the force to manage it.
If the issue of what extra entitlements under Police Regulations you have as a parent interests you, look on our website for my article in the summer 2016 edition of Manchat (https://polfed.org/gmp/manchat/), which covers time off to care for dependants.