Shared Parental Leave: how it works

Shared Parental Leave rights will apply for parents who meet the eligibility criteria:

– You must share responsibility for the child with one of the following:

  • your husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter
  • the child’s other parent
  • your partner (if they live with you and the child)

You or your partner must be eligible for maternity pay or leave, adoption pay or leave or Maternity Allowance.

You must also:

  • 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 you’re matched with your adopted child)
  • stay with the same employer while you take SPL

During the 66 weeks before the week the baby’s due (or the week you’re matched with your adopted child) your partner must:

  • have been working for at least 26 weeks (they don’t need to be consecutive)
  • have earned at least £390 in total in 13 of the 66 weeks (you can select the highest paying weeks and they don’t have to be consecutive)

This can be as an employee, worker or self-employed person. Your partner doesn’t have to be working at the date of birth or when you start SPL.

Key points

The key points of shared parental leave, which aims to open up parents’ options in the first year after their baby is born, are:

– Employed mothers will continue to be entitled to 52 weeks of Maternity Leave and 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance

– Women will have to take the first two weeks after their baby is born off, but if a couple opt for SPL after this their partner will get the flat rate or whatever their employer offers rather than 90% of average earnings for the first six weeks after the baby is born.

– 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 both parents meet the qualifying requirements, they will need to decide how they divide their total SPL and pay entitlement between them.

– A mother can be on maternity leave while a father is on SPL. The mother can give notice to bring her maternity leave to an end at a date in the future.  Until that date, she continues to be on maternity leave and to be eligible for statutory and/or contractual maternity pay and benefits. In respect of pay, parents are entitled to a total of 39 weeks’ shared parental pay between them less any maternity pay taken or due to be taken.  Any money received by the mother, as statutory maternity pay, or by her husband as shared parental pay would need to be deducted from the total 39-week entitlement.

– Paid paternity leave of two weeks will continue to be available to fathers and a mother’s or adopter’s partners.

– Adopters will have the same rights as other parents to SPL and pay.

– Intended parents in surrogacy who meet certain criteria will be eligible for statutory adoption leave and pay and SPL and pay.

– Both mothers and fathers on SPL are entitled to 10 SPLIT days each when they can go into work to keep in touch with developments. These are in addition to the 10 KIT days women can take during maternity leave.

Notification

An employee opting for SPL must notify his or her employer of their entitlement to SPL and must “book” the leave they wish to take in writing, giving their employer at least eight weeks’ notice. Each eligible employee can give their employer up to three separate notices. Each notice can be for a block of leave, or the notice may be for a pattern of “discontinuous” leave involving different periods of leave. If a parent asks for discontinuous blocks of leave in a notification the employer can refuse and require that the total weeks of leave in the notice to be taken in a single continuous block.

Your employer can ask you for more information within 14 days of you applying for SPL or Shared Parental Pay, including the birth certificate.

Acas advises employers to develop a clear policy on shared parental leave and says having an early and informal discussion can provide an opportunity for both the employee and employer to talk about their preference regarding when SPL is taken.

Full information here. Acas advice here.

Picture credit: Vlado and www.freedigitalpghotos.net





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