Square Circle: Alison Welsh

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Shared Parental Leave; are you ready?

The Shared Parental Leave (SPL) regulations effective from 1st December 2014 will apply to babies born (or children placed for adoption) on or after 5th April 2015. So what does it mean in practice? It is aimed at giving parents more flexibility over how they share childcare during the child’s first year

There are certain eligibility requirements to qualify for Shared Parental Leave (SPL) in that both individuals must have caring responsibility for the child. The mother must have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service at the 15th week before the baby’s due date and must still be working for that same employer when they start the SPL. The other parent must also have worked for any 26 out of the 66 weeks before the baby’s expected date of birth/expected placement date and have earned a set average amount for any 13 of the 66 weeks.

How will Shared Parental Leave work in practice?
Subject to notice requirements the amount of shared parental leave that the parents can take between them is 52 weeks. There is a period of compulsory maternity leave for the mother (2 or 4 weeks for factory workers). So in theory up to 50 weeks’ parental leave can be shared by the parents. All leave must be taken within the first 52 weeks following the birth or adoption placement date and has to be taken in periods of 1 week but does not have to be taken in one continuous block.

If an employee gives notice requesting separate periods of leave, the employer has the option to refuse this request, in which case the default position is that the employee can take the leave in one block. The employee can withdraw the request or agree alternative dates with the employer. An employee can submit up to 3 separate notices for leave.

Statutory Pay during Shared Parental Leave
Subject to eligibility requirements the employee will receive Statutory Parental Leave Pay (SPP) during a period of SPL. This is paid at the same rate as Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and there would be a total combined entitlement to 39 weeks of statutory pay.

Under current Maternity Leave and Pay rules the mother would normally receive 90% of average earnings during the first 6 weeks of maternity paid leave therefore it is anticipated that most women will not start any period of SPL until after this 6 week period in order to take advantage of higher pay than they would receive under SPL. So a likely position is that the mother takes 6 weeks paid leave, deducting this from the 39 weeks statutory pay available leaves 33 weeks paid parental leave which can be taken together or separately.

In theory an employer may have two employees off at the same time and both in receipt of statutory payments under the new Shared Parental Leave rules. Paid Paternity Leave of two weeks will continue to be available to fathers and a mother’s or adopter’s partner, however Additional Paternity Leave will be removed (Shared Parental Leave will replace it). For more information contact the Square Circle HR Team.

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