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Parental leave: Parental leave can generally be taken only in one-week blocks

Key points

In Rodway v South Central Trains Ltd [2005] IRLR 583, the Court of Appeal holds:

  • The EAT was correct to hold that paragraph 7, Schedule 2, Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999 means that parental leave may only be taken in blocks of one week's leave, except where there are contractual provisions or a workforce or collective agreement to the contrary, or where the child in respect of whom leave is taken is entitled to disability living allowance.
  • The heading to para. 7 of Schedule 2, "minimum periods of leave", has a clear meaning and the words, "an employee may not take parental leave in a period other than" a week should be interpreted in the same way as the phrase "in periods" in reg.14(4). Although the meaning of reg.14(4) does not concern the default provisions and is not directly relevant to the meaning of para. 7, it would seem that the word "in" has the same meaning as that preferred by the EAT: the phrase "in a period" in para. 7 means "for a period", not "during a period" of a week.
  • Employees cannot take one day's leave and treat such a period as using up a whole week's entitlement. If the default provisions apply, the whole week must be taken. This does not prevent contractual terms from providing for leave to be taken in shorter periods.