Shared Parental Leave (SPL) – not long now!

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Shared Parental Leavel (SPL) – not long now! -The clock is ticking…

Shared Parental Leave is a new right that will come into force on 1st December 2014. It will enable eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed.

This could mean that the mother or adopter shares some of the leave with her partner, perhaps returning to work for part of the time and then resuming leave at a later date.

The options to use the new Shared Parental Leave rights will apply for parents who meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Going to have a baby which is due to be born on or after 5 April 2015
  • Adopting a children whose placed for adoption on or after that date.

Employers should note that they could start to receive requests from employees giving notice of their eligibility and the intention to take Shared Parental Leave from January 2015.

What are the key points of SPL?

  • Employed mothers will continue to be entitled to 52 weeks of Maternity Leave and 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance
  • If they choose to do so, an eligible mother can end her Maternity Leave early and with her partner or the child’s father, will be able to opt for SPL instead of Maternity Leave.  If they both meet the qualifying requirements, they will need to decide how they divide their total SPL and pay entitlement between them.
  • Paid Paternity Leave of two weeks will continue to be available to fathers and mothers or adopter’s partners. This must be used in a single block of leave and taken within 56 days of the birth.
  • Adopters will have the same rights as other parents to Shared Parental Leave and pay
  • Intended parents in surrogacy who meet certain criteria will be eligible for statutory adoption leave and pay and Shared Parental Leave and Pay

Shared Parental Leave is designed to give parents more flexibility in sharing the care of their child in the first year following birth or adoption. Parents will also be able to share a pot of leave. They can decide to be off work at the same time and/or taking it in turns to have periods of leave to look after the child.

“Managing and administering SPL may be hard for businesses with a small headcount, particularly where a husband and wife are working together,” says Matthew of Consensus HR.  “You will need to ensure that the correct procedures are put in place so as to minimise any disruption to the business”.

Who is eligible for SPL?

To qualify for Shared Parental Leave and pay, a mother must share the main responsibility for caring for the child with the child’s father or her partner. In addition, she must be entitled to:

  • Maternity or adoption leave, or
  • Statutory maternity or adoption pay, or
  • Maternity allowance

In addition, they will be required to follow a two-step process to establish eligibility.

Shared Parental Leave may be taken at any time within set dates. This period of time begins on the date the child is born (or date of the placement). It ends 52 weeks after that date. Leave must be taken in complete weeks. An employer cannot refuse leave requested as a continuous period, however leave in a discontinuous period can be refused.  The mother must take a minimum of two weeks’ leave after the birth of the child or four weeks if they work in a factory.

It will be for the mother or adopter to continue on Maternity Leave or opt to take Shared Parental Leave.

Consensus HR Comment:

“When a pregnancy or parental leave request is announced, a business should celebrate with the employee, generating good morale,” says Matthew. “The employee feels supported as the business fully understands his/her wish to share time with their child.”

“From the business’ perspective, solutions to cover the absent parent’s leave periods should be sought immediately. (Rearrangement of duties or recruiting a temporary employee, for example.)”

“It will be interesting to see how this affects sexual equality of workers in the workplace” adds Matthew. “It will be up to the parents to decide who takes the time off. The pure capability of the person – regardless of sex – will be the main factor of employment.  We wait to see what the outcome is of this new Government family friendly scheme is to businesses.”

Consensus HR advises businesses to seek professional HR support in these circumstances. This ensures that the employer does not take action that contravenes of the law in general and the Equality Act 2010.

If you would like more information of have any specific queries, contact Matthew at Consensus HR via Matthew@consensushr.com or call 01462 621 423.

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