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What if my employer tries to prevent me taking parental leave, or dismisses or disadvantages me for it?

You have the right to complain to an employment tribunal if your employer has unreasonably refused to let you take time off for dependants, unreasonably postponed your parental leave, or has prevented or tried to prevent you from taking parental leave. You also have a separate right not to be dismissed or subjected to any unfavourable treatment (such as harassing you, downgrading your job or cutting your pay) because you have taken, or tried to take, parental leave or time off for dependants.

If you decide to make a complaint to a tribunal, you may well want to first complain to your employer (by putting your grievance in writing and giving your employer time to respond).

However, any complaint to an employment tribunal should be made within three months of the actions of the employer that you are complaining about. Otherwise, it is very unlikely that your complaint will be heard. If you are considering making a complaint, get advice from a union rep, a solicitor or other specialist adviser.

The tribunal rules changed in an important respect in April 2014, to introduce Acas Early Conciliation.   Under these new rules, the first step before issuing any claim in the employment tribunal is to contact Acas to consider possible early conciliation of your claim. You must contact Acas before you issue your tribunal claim, although you do not have to participate in the conciliation process, and neither does your employer.

You should contact Acas as soon as possible and must, in any event, take this step within the three-month time limit for bringing your claim. 

You will not be allowed to issue your claim without an Acas Early Conciliation Certificate.