Changes in respect of shared parental leave comes into effect in December 2014, it affects parents of children born or matched for adoption on or after 5 April 2015 and is designed to allow parents to share the care for the child in the first year from the date of the child’s birth.
Employers will need to make provisions for these changes now, and consider how they will manage these requests.
Employed mothers will continue to be entitled to 52 weeks of Maternity Leave and 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance.
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 Shared Parental Leave instead of Maternity Leave. If they both meet the qualifying requirements and both qualify, they will need to decide how they divide their total Shared Parental Leave and Pay entitlement between them.
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 Shared Parental leave and pay.
Intended parents in surrogacy who meet certain criteria will be eligible for statutory adoption leave and pay and Shared Parental Leave and Pay
To qualify for Shared Parental Leave and Pay a mother must be entitled to maternity or adoption leave, or statutory maternity or adoption pay or maternity allowance and must share the main responsibility for caring for the child with the child’s father or her partner. In addition, they will be required to follow a two step process to establish eligibility.
Step 1 – Continuity test:
A parent seeking to take Shared Parental Leave must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the week in which the child is due (or at the week in which an adopter was notified of having been matched with a child or adoption) and is still employed in the first week that Shared Parental Leave is to be take
The other parent has be have worked for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to the due date and have earned above the maternity allowance threshold in 13 of the 66 weeks.
Step 2 – Individual eligibility for pay:
To qualify for Shared Parental Pay the parent must, as well as passing the continuity test, also have earned an average salary of the lower earnings limit or more for the 8 weeks’ prior to the 15th week before the EWC.
How does Shared Parental Leave work?
Both parents will be able to take shared parental leave and claim shared parental pay after the compulsory two-week maternity leave period.
Shared Parental Leave may be taken at any time within the period which begins on the date the child is born or date of the placement and ends 52 weeks after that date. Leave must be taken in complete weeks and may be taken either in a continuous period, which an employer cannot refuse or in a discontinuous period, which the employer can refuse.
Before taking a block of leave, an employee will have to provide the employer with 8 weeks’ notice.
For more information and guidance on Shared Parental Leave; please contact us we would be happy to help.