Making The Most Of Parental Leave

Officers need to know that they are entitled to unpaid parental leave, which can really help in some circumstances, Hampshire Police Federation has said.

Police officers who have children are entitled to 18 weeks of unpaid leave for each child, which can be used any time before their 18th birthday. If they adopt, they get it from the date of adoption. Parental leave can be used so that officers can “be absent from work, for the purpose of caring for that child”.

Officers might be put off using it because it is unpaid, Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoë Wakefield said, but it can be an easier option than reducing hours at work or requesting a flexible working plan.
People might have unexpected caring responsibilities, especially if they’re going through a separation. Or perhaps someone needs to look after their children in the summer holidays if their childcare falls through.

If an officer takes parental leave, their annual leave for that year remains unchanged, so they can also take their full amount of holiday. Parental leave is an entitlement that the Chief Constable will grant, as long as the officer gives 21 days’ notice.

Zoë said: “There is a lack of knowledge around this, but I think the main reason is because it’s unpaid. We know officers struggle to take leave anyway, so they’re always going to use their paid leave first before thinking about using parental leave.

“But we do know some officers that have used it. I know one officer who had three children in relatively quick succession, and then took three lots of parental leave at the end of her third maternity leave, which gave her then a year off with her children while they were young.

“I also know another female officer and a male officer who were able to afford to do that when their children were young. People need to know it’s there, and then if it fits their circumstances then it is a very useful thing to have.

“There’s information about parental leave on our force website, or officers can contact us in the Federation office and we can give them advice on it.”

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