Legal options regarding parental leave for children born in 2022

As you will have seen, the administrative issuance on parental leave is now out. This is good news for anyone who became a parent on or after 1 January 2023, as they will now be able to use their entitlement to 16/26 weeks of leave.

Unfortunately, the news is less good for those who became parents just before.

Provisional staff rule 6.3 (ST/SGB/2023/1), which is currently in force, begins as follows:

(a) Under conditions established by the Secretary-General, staff members shall be granted:
        (i) Sixteen weeks of parental leave with full pay in the case of the birth or adoption of a child;
     (ii) An additional period of 10 weeks of prenatal and postnatal leave with full pay for the parent who gives birth, bringing the total duration of their parental leave to 26 weeks;

(b) Staff members may avail of the 16 weeks of parental leave mentioned in paragraph (a) (i) above any time within a year following the date of their child’s birth or adoption, provided that it is completed during that year. [our emphasis]

It is only the administrative issuance which limits the scope of the above-mentioned rule to parents with children born or adopted from 1 January 2023.

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Many parents have been asking whether they have any recourse for not being able to use the entitlements they were promised. They do have the option to take their case to the UN Dispute Tribunal.

Anyone considering this option should bear in mind both that there is no guarantee of success and that the case will be based on their individual circumstances, which means that any remedy won by other parents would not apply to those who did not take legal action. Only a change in policy could do that.

If you want to bring a case to the tribunal, you will first need an administrative decision to challenge. To obtain this, you need to make a request for parental leave. Once you receive a rejection, you will have 60 days to file a management evaluation request (MER).

We recommend that you inform the Staff Union of your decision to take action, briefly describing your circumstances: whether or not you are the birth mother, when exactly you became a parent and whether you used all or any of your leave under the previous entitlement. We are coordinating globally with other staff unions to seek and share legal advice, and may be able to provide guidance for your management evaluation request.