Shared Parental Leave

How will it affect employers and employees?

Family-friendly leave entitlements are changing!  Shared Parental Leave (SPL) applies to parents of children who are due to be born/adopted on or after 5 April 2015 and will give parents more flexibility over when they take leave during the first year of their child’s life.

SPL will be an “opt-in” system so the current maternity and adoption leave provisions apply unless parents choose to share it.  2 weeks ordinary paternity leave will remain available to fathers/partners, but the option to take additional paternity leave has been removed.

SPL is available to families where both parents are employed and also where one parent is employed and the other is classed as “economically active”, which only requires a low level of earnings.

Employment rights during leave, in redundancy situations and on return are the same as during maternity leave.

How will it affect employers?

For employers, it will mean new policies, new forms, more administration and less certainty over when their employees will be in the office. Employers who currently offer enhanced maternity pay schemes should consider treating SPL in the same way, or it could be considered sex discrimination to pay the partner less.

The parents decide how to divide up 50 weeks of SPL. They can request leave in one block or multiple blocks of complete weeks. If they ask for one block of leave, the employer has to agree. If they ask for multiple blocks, the employer has 2 weeks to agree, propose an alternative or refuse. Requests to vary leave can be made but the employer may refuse that request.  If the employer refuses a multiple leave request, the parent is allowed to take SPL in one block.

How will it affect employees?

The mother will still have to take the first two weeks of compulsory maternity leave.

The mother can choose to continue on maternity leave or serve a “curtailment notice” giving her employer 8 weeks’ notice of the end of her maternity leave. At the same time she has to serve a “notice of entitlement” to prove that she is entitled to SPL along with an indication of when she would like to take her part of the SPL.

The father/partner must also serve a notice of entitlement and intention to take SPL on his/her employer. These notices are very detailed and include declarations from each parent that they agree to the amount of leave that the other parent is taking.

Each parent has to provide their employer with details of the other parent’s employer with standard evidence of entitlement such as birth certificate/adoption papers.

Once parents have agreed plans to take leave, they serve another notice on their employers (a “period of leave notice”) at least 8 weeks before the start of the first period of leave.

If you would like to know more, please get in touch.

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