Here is the essential information you need to know about the new system of shared parental leave. The new rules come into effect on 1 December 2014, and apply to babies born on or after 5 April 2015.
Adopters and birth parents will be eligible, and for simplicity we have dealt with the birth rules here, which largely follow the adoption rules.
The rules are complicated, however, and we do recommend either referring to the legislation direct, or calling us for assistance, in any particular case.
If they are eligible, the new rules mean that a new mother (M) and her partner (P) will be able to share the 52 non-compulsory weeks of maternity leave between themselves.
Mothers and their partners, of either sex, whether married or unmarried (providing they are in an ‘enduring family relationship’), are eligible.
New mums have 2 weeks’ compulsory maternity leave, 4 in the case of factory workers. These weeks, and any further weeks taken as normal maternity leave under the existing scheme need to be deducted from the total available to share.
Eligible parents will be able to decide when and how much shared parental leave they take over this period of time, and their employer will be forced to accept their requests, provided the correct notices have been given.
Each parent will be able to take their share of the shared parental leave in 3 separate blocks.
Here are the regulations that set out the new rules about shared parental leave.
These rules are complicated; put a shared parental leave policy in place so everyone knows where they stand.
The notice rules are also complicated and you will not want it to be unclear whether the process has been followed and requests binding. So put a standard form shared parental leave Notice in place so you know everything is covered.
At Springhouse, we have drafted a shared parental leave policy and notice form for you to use. Please contact us if you would like these for your business.
Both parents need to pass their own eligibility tests. Just because one parent isn’t eligible to take shared leave, it doesn’t mean that the other one isn’t.
M: To take shared leave herself, M must be employed and eligible for maternity leave, have worked continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due week, have responsibility for care of the child, and give proper notice (see below for notice requirements). Mum’s partner must also have responsibility for the child and be economically active, having earned at least £30 a week on average during 26 of the last 66 weeks.
P: To take shared leave him/herself, P must satisfy the above requirements, and M must be economically active in the same way, but M is additionally required to be in receipt of maternity leave, pay or allowance.
Starting shared parental leave
This starts when M:
– Ends her maternity leave by returning to work, or
– Serves a binding notice curtailing her maternity leave, or pay, or allowance.
For each block of leave, employees must give 8 weeks’ written notice providing detailed information, declarations and confirmations.
So, if M is serving a notice:
– M & P’s name
– Start and end dates of maternity leave taken and to be taken
– Total amount of shared parental leave available to M & P, how much M & P intend to take and when M intends to take it
– EWC/Date of Birth
Signed declarations from M:
– M’s eligibility to shared parental leave is satisfied
– M’s information is accurate
– M will immediately inform employer if she ceases to care for C
Signed declarations from P:
– P’s name, address, NI number
– Eligibility of M to shared parental leave satisfied by P
– Relationship with M/C
– Consent to amount of leave M taking
– Consent to M’s employer processing data
P’s notice needs to be in broadly the same form, but we recommend looking at the details in the shared parental leave regulations to make sure any notice is correctly given, as there are slight differences.
For notice to be binding on an employer, a ‘booking notice’ also needs to be served, confirming dates, and a ‘curtailment notice’, curtailing the leave.
As soon as the parents indicate any intention to take shared parental leave, i.e. before they have actually booked it or brought maternity leave to an end of curtailed it, the employer can ask for a copy of the child’s birth certificate and the name and address of their partner’s employer. This must be handed over within 14 days.
Shared parental leave keeping in touch days (“SPLiT days”)
Partners can share up to 20 SPLiT days.
This is in addition to the 10 days already granted to M under the maternity leave rules. Of course, she may not use all these up if she is ending or curtailing her maternity leave.
These are optional, must be agreed with the employer, and do not bring the shared parental leave to an end.
Blocks of leave
Employees entitled to shared parental leave can take their leave in up to 3 separate blocks, instead of taking it all in one go.
Both parents can take their blocks of leave at the same time.
Each block of leave requires the 8 weeks’ requisite notice.
Any block of maternity leave must be a minimum of a week.
Shorter and additional blocks can be taken, by agreement only. Single blocks of time cannot be turned down by the employer, provided all the conditions are met.
It is not possible to change blocks of leave other than in limited circumstances. The main reason will be that it is less than 6 weeks since the birth, and mum gave notice before the birth.
Shared parental pay at the basic rate (currently the lower of £137.68 or 90% of earnings) will be available to be shared by both parents while they are off.
Eligibility to shared parental pay depends on the correct notice being given and the parents’ eligibility to maternity/paternity pay.
The total of 39 weeks’ entitlement to SPP is available to share. This time will be reduced by the weeks of maternity pay claimed by M.
Here are the regulations dealing with shared parental pay.