Shared Parental Leave

The current system of statutory pay and leave entitlements for employed parents is to be reformed for babies due (or adopted children placed) on or after 5 April 2015. The following guidance in contained in the lengthy Employer Bulletin so we have reproduced it in full.

The Government is reforming the statutory pay and leave entitlements available to employed parents. For babies due on or after 5 April 2015 a new entitlement of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) will replace Additional Paternity Leave and Pay. The parents of babies due on or before 4 April 2015 will continue to be eligible for Additional Paternity Leave and Pay.

SPL gives families greater choice over how they arrange childcare in the first year, by allowing working mothers the option to end their maternity pay and leave early and to share untaken leave and pay with their partner. An adopter will similarly be able to bring their adoption leave and pay to an early end to opt into Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) and Leave.

It is intended to enable fathers to take a greater role in caring for a child, and to help both parents to better balance childcare responsibilities with staying in work. For businesses, this helps them keep their best talent and allows employers to recruit with confidence that their women employees will be less likely to drop out of the workforce when they have children.

How does it work?

Current entitlement to 52 weeks statutory maternity/adoption leave, 39 of which is paid, and 2 weeks of statutory paternity leave and pay is all unchanged. The first six weeks of Statutory Adoption Pay will increase to 90% of average weekly earnings.

Working parents of a baby due or an adoptive child placed on or after 5 April 2015 may be eligible for SPL and ShPP. Under SPL, mothers/adopters will be able to choose to end their maternity/adoption leave and pay early (at any point from 2 weeks after the birth/placement), and share their untaken pay and leave with their partner. Shared parental leave and pay can be stopped and started and parents can be off at the same time, if they wish.

Parents will be able to take their leave in phases, for example 20 weeks for the mother/adopter, followed by 20 weeks for the father/partner, followed by 10 weeks for the mother/adopter. So it may be the case that statutory parental pay is paid over one or two discontinuous periods. Parents must notify their employers of their plans under SPL 8 weeks before they become eligible for it, and all shared leave and pay must be taken between the birth/placement and the child’s first birthday.

What do employers need to do?

We expect the first notifications of intention to take SPL to arrive with employers from February 2015. The Government will provide an online form for parents to use. Some employers may wish to create their own requirements for how their employees notify them.

We anticipate that employers will need to update payroll systems where relevant to accommodate providing statutory parental pay to employees taking SPL, and to enable these payments to be paid discontinuously where necessary.

The Government will provide online tools to check eligibility, and publish detailed guidance on the rules around SPL. A key part of SPL is the discussion between employer and employee to agree the phasing of SPL and the return to work, and ACAS will also publish guidance to support this process.’

We will update you when further information is released. Please do get in touch if you would like further guidance on this area.

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