Shared Parental Leave

There has been quite a lot on the news and in the press in relation to the new ‘Shared parental leave’ entitlements which will be enshrined in law from December 2014 but will only apply to parents of children born on or after 5th April 2015.

The new terms are really quite complex so more details will follow over the coming months but we felt it important to let our clients know a little about the changes now so they can start to think about how to prepare.

This entitlement will allow eligible mothers and their partners to be absent from work to care for a child for a maximum of 52 weeks (but this includes the compulsory 2 weeks that the mother must take immediately after the birth).

Eligible couples could also take up to 39 weeks of shared parental pay.

A couple will be able to:

a)         take the leave together so that the mother will not necessarily return to work after compulsory maternity leave; or

b)         the mother could return to work and allow her partner to take the balance of leave; or

c)         the couple could take the leave in turns.

So there is likely to be a lot of logistical challenges for employers and you will need to consider providing managers with appropriate training as well as considering how you will set up procedures and systems to be able to manage this effectively.  Alcumus are currently working on how we can help in this regard so please do contact us to discuss this further if needed.

In summary

Employees will have to:

a) Give notice of their intention to opt into the shared parental system;

b) Ladies will have to give notice that they want their maternity leave entitlement to end and in doing so, employees will have to provide a non-binding indication of their expected pattern of leave;

c) Additionally, employees will have to provide eight weeks’ notice of their intention to take any period of leave. This will include a two week discussion period with their employer.

Employees will be restricted to making no more than three notifications of either a period of leave or a variation of a period of leave.

Other key changes are:

  • Each person in a couple will have up to 20 days for ‘Shared Parental leave in touch’ (SPLIT days) while on shared parental leave (this is in addition to the female retaining the right to up to 10 keeping in touch (KIT) days during her maternity leave – this could be a challenge to manage especially if you employ both partners in your organisation!
  • The right to return to the same job will be maintained for employees returning from any period of leave (including maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave and shared parental leave) which totals 26 weeks or less in total, even if the leave is taken in discontinuous blocks.

More comprehensive information will follow over the coming months.

Julie Dawson – Senior HR Consultant, Alcumus Group