Negotiated Carer Leave

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In some cases, an employee may meet the criteria to get Government-funded parental leave payments, but not actually qualify for parental leave itself. Negotiated carer leave allows employees to take a period of unpaid leave to care for their child and receive parental leave payments, without having to actually meet the criteria for parental leave.

This agreement is beneficial for employees who fall outside the usual requirements for parental leave. For example, if an employee changed jobs and has not worked for the same employer for at least six months or if an employee does not work enough hours each week for a single employer.


An employee can ask to take negotiated carer leave if:

  • The employee or their spouse or partner is pregnant, and it is at least 3 months before the baby is due; or
  • The employee is assuming permanent primary care of a child under six and it is at least 14 days before they intend to assume care

An employee must get permission from their employer before taking negotiated carer leave. The request must be in writing and include several details, including an explanation in the employee’s view of what changes, if any, the employer may need to make to their arrangements in order to approve the request. The employer must let the employee know in writing whether they agree to the request or not within one month after receiving the request.

Can an Employer Say No to Negotiated Leave?

It is lawful for an employer to refuse a request for negotiated carer leave only on specified grounds. An employer may refuse an application request if:

  • The employer is unable to reorganize work among existing staff
  • The employer is unable to recruit additional staff
  • There will be a detrimental impact on quality
  • There will be a detrimental impact on performance
  • There are planned structure changes
  • It will be a burden of additional costs; or
  • It will have a detrimental effect on the employer’s ability to meet customer demand.

If an employer declines the employee’s request to take negotiated leave, they must give a written statement explaining their reasons. If an employer does not provide a written response or does not give a fair reason for declining, they may face potential legal risks including investigation by the Labour Inspectorate.

How to Implement a Negotiated Carer Leave Policy

Employers and employees can negotiate on the terms and conditions of negotiated carer leave.  Any agreements should be recorded in writing.  An employer may wish to implement a negotiated carer leave policy to outline the process to all employees.

Some of the guidelines to include when writing this leave policy are:

  • When an employee can ask to take negotiated carer leave
  • How long the employee can take negotiated carer leave for
  • Whether or not the employer is going to pay the employee during the negotiated carer leave
  • Reasons for not allowing an employee to take negotiated carer leave

For specific advice on how to calculate negotiated leave in your business, or for help writing and implementing a policy, contact Employsure on 0800 568 012.

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