Shared Parental Leave – are you ready?

New Shared Parental Leave (SPL) is in force and applies to babies due from 5 April 2015.

Ruth Renton from our employment team has written some brief newsflash points on this new complicated and detailed law. Employers should now review and amend their existing family friendly policies and arrangements and draft a new SPL policy and notices. Please speak to us for further information.

This newsflash talks about mothers and fathers, but SPL applies to civil partners, surrogate parents and adoptions:

  • parents or adopters can share responsibility for childcare during their baby’s first year, or the first year after adoption placement. For multiple births there is only one SPL period;
  • the default system will be the existing 52 weeks maternity or adoption leave and 2 weeks paternity leave, with the option for eligible employees to opt into SPL;
  • up to 50 weeks of maternity leave can be used as SPL, split between the parents; and
  • under SPL, the mother can curtail her maternity leave and pay and the father takes the remaining balance as SPL. The father’s SPL can be taken at the same time as the mother’s SPL or maternity leave, or after she has returned to work.
Eligibility criteria for SPL

The mother must:

  • be eligible for maternity leave/pay, maternity allowance, or adoption leave/pay; and
  • must have curtailed maternity leave or returned to work- the curtailment notice has to be given at least 8 weeks before the start of SPL.

Both parents must:

  • be continuously employed for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth;
  • be employed by their respective employers when they take SPL;
  • have or expect to have main responsibility with their partner ( living with the employee and child);
  • satisfy the employment earnings test;
  • have given their employers a Notice of Entitlement and Intention To Take SPL;
  • have provided evidence requested by the employer within 14 days of request: including birth certificate/ parent’s employer details; and
  • have given a Booking/Period of Leave Notice;
SPL notices

There are different SPL notices with different time periods including:

  • Curtailment Notice;
  • Notice of Entitlement and Intention To Take SPL;
  • Booking or Period of Leave Notice. This must be given at least 8 weeks before the first SPL start date.This can be for one continuous period or blocks of “discontinuous” periods of at least one week at a time; and
  • Variation Notices.

BEWARE: There cannot be more than 3 Booking or variation notices by each parent!

Employer rights

Employers cannot refuse a booking notice for a continuous period of SPL.

Employer agreement is necessary for ‘discontinuous’ leave periods. Within 14 days an employer can:

  • agree;
  • disagree with the request; or
  • disagree with the request and propose alternative dates.

If no agreement, the employee can either withdraw their request or take the total discontinuous SPL as one continuous period of leave. If the ‘discontinuous’ Booking Notice is withdrawn within the 14 days or the day after, it will not be counted as one of the 3 Booking/Variation Notices.

Employees on SPL are entitled to SPLIT days, the equivalent of maternity KIT days. Each employee has 20 SPLIT days while on SPL.

SPL pay

37 weeks of SPL pay can be shared at the lower of:

  • £138.59; or
  • 90% of the relevant parent’s weekly earnings.

Mothers will be financially better off to take the first six weeks as maternity leave/pay, which is the greater of 90% of pay or £138.59.

If you would like more information about Shared Parental Leave, please contact our Employment team:

Ruth Renton ([email protected]), Paula Hughes ([email protected]) or David Stott ([email protected]) and they will happily help you.

To see the full newsletter, please click here:

Shared Parental Leave – are you ready?

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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