02 April 2015 #Employment
Much has been written about Shared Parental Leave (SPL) in recent months, but now it is here! SPL can be taken by an employee who has a baby due on or after 5 April 2015, or a child placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015.
We have put together the top ten things that you must remember, now that SPL is in place:
1. A mother must still take Compulsory Maternity Leave
Compulsory Maternity Leave is a two week (four week if the mother works in a factory or similar environment) period directly after the birth of the child. This period of leave cannot be shared with the partner.
2. Requests for discontinuous leave can be refused
An employee can request to take the leave as discontinuous or continuous. An employer can refuse a request to take discontinuous leave and ask the employee to take continuous leave instead or propose alternative dates. However, beware discrimination claims. A request for continuous leave cannot be refused.
3. Eight weeks’ notice is required
If an employee or his/her partner has started by taking Statutory Maternity/Adoption Leave and then decides to change to take Shared Parental Leave at least eight weeks’ notice must be given. An employee cannot start to take Shared Parental Leave if their partner is still taking Statutory Maternity/Adoption Leave.
4. SPL is not obligatory
An employee does not have to take SPL. An employee can continue to take Statutory Maternity/Adoption Leave in exactly the same as prior to 5 April 2015. An employee must not suffer any detriment for taking SPL, or for deciding not to take SPL.
5. One parent may take SPL
In many cases, both parents will be entitled to take shared parental leave. However, it is possible that only one of them may qualify e.g. where one of them (it could be the mother or other parent) is self employed. In that case, the parent that is entitled (and who must be an employee) may take all the SPL leave entitlement.
There is no requirement for SPL to actually be shared, even when both parents are entitled to take it. They may decide between them that the mother should take it all or that the other parent should take it all.
6. Not everyone is eligible to take SPL
Eligibility is not completely straightforward. See Employmentbuddy's Shared Parental Leave Policy
7. Ordinary Paternity Leave stays, Additional Paternity Leave goes
Once SPL is introduced Additional Paternity Leave will no longer exist. This was the additional leave that a partner could take once the mother/adopter had returned to work. This could not be taken until 20 weeks after the birth/adoption and was just 2-26 weeks in length. It has been removed because it replicates the concept of sharing the leave that is central to SPL. However, SPL is more flexible, because the sharing of the leave can start as soon as the Compulsory Maternity Leave period is complete plus unlike maternity leave SPL can be taken in discontinuous blocks.
Ordinary Paternity Leave, which is the two weeks that a partner can take within 56 weeks of the birth/adoption, remains. However, it must be taken before the partners start to take SPL (if they opt to do this).
8. Amount of Shared Parental Pay
Shared Parental Pay mirrors Statutory Maternity Pay – six weeks at 90% of average earnings, followed by 33 weeks at £139.58 per week. If either partner has already taken some Statutory Maternity/Adoption Pay before taking SPL this is deducted from the Shared Parental Pay that is due.
9. The SPLIT day entitlement is per person
Each person taking SPL will be entitled to take up to 20 SPLIT (Shared Parental Leave in Touch) days. These are days to go to work to catch up on events, attend training or just to ‘keep in touch’. Working a SPLIT day does not affect entitlement to Shared Parental Pay.
10. Return to work
If the total of SPL plus Statutory Maternity/Adoption Leave that has been taken is less than 26 weeks then the employee is entitled to return to their old job. If the total is more than 26 weeks the right is to return to a job of the same status with the same terms and conditions as the job prior to taking leave.