The Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014 came into effect earlier this month allowing parents to share leave and pay following the birth or adoption of their child. Under the new regulations, employees may be entitled to share both parental leave and pay with their partner if their baby is due, or if they adopt a child, on or after 5 April 2015. This is to give families more choice over how they look after their children in the first year of having them.
Employers should be aware of the following:
• An employee is eligible for Shared Parental Leave if they meet all of the following criteria:
• They have been employed continuously by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date or by the date that they have been matched with an adopted child
• They stay with the same employer during the Shared Parental Leave
• Their partner has worked at least 26 weeks, which don’t need to be in a row, during the 66 weeks before the due date or by the date that they have been matched with an adopted child and they have earned at least £390 in total in 13 of the 66 weeks.
• It is the employee’s responsibility to check if they are eligible for Shared Parental Leave and this must be confirmed in a written declaration. An employee must also provide a written declaration from their partner that he or she is also eligible for, and consents to taking, Shared Parental Leave.
• A new mother must still take at least two weeks off work following her child’s birth and her partner is still entitled to take two weeks Paternity Leave after the birth. After the mandatory two weeks, an eligible mother can now end her Maternity Leave early and share the remaining parental leave and pay with her partner.
• Shared Parental Leave may be taken at any time up to 52 weeks after a child is born.
• Employees are required to give their employers at least eight weeks’ notice if they wish to take Shared Parental Leave.
• Up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay can be shared between parents before their child’s first birthday. Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) is paid at the rate of £138.18 a week or 90% of an employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. ShPP will be refunded to employers in a similar way to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).
• Unlike Maternity Leave, employees do not have to take all of their Shared Parental Leave at the same time. They are entitled to take it in up to three blocks, with each block being a minimum of one week, and return to work in between. An employer cannot refuse the first three blocks but they may agree to more blocks if they wish.
• For an adopted child, the same principles apply except that either parent can take the mandatory two-week adoption leave and the child’s adoption date is used instead of the child’s due date.
• Employees continue to receive the same benefits as if they had not been absent from work. Each parent can work up to 20 days, called ‘Shared Parental Leave in Touch’ days, during Shared Parental Leave without bringing it to an end. Employees also have a right to return to the same job, or a job that is both suitable and appropriate, depending on the length of leave taken.
To find out more about Shared Parental Leave, including whether your employees are eligible, visit the Gov.uk website.
For advice on Shared Parental Leave and any other employment issues, NSCC members can call the NSCC Employment Helpline provided by Croner on 0844 249 9873.