New legislation will come into force on 01 December 2014 and will apply to parents (who meet the relevant criteria) where their baby is born or where a child is placed with them for adoption after 05 April 2015.
The legislation will allow parents to share statutory maternity leave and pay (that is currently only available to mothers) after their child is born or placed.
It will be up to the employees to propose how they wish to share the shared parental leave (SPL) and shared parental pay (SPP) and to discuss this with their respective employers.
The current entitlement to 52 weeks of maternity leave (39 weeks paid) will remain the default position for all employed women, as well the 2 week period of compulsory maternity leave.
However, if parents wish to elect to use the new scheme, then in order to qualify the parents must satisfy the minimum earnings test and have been continuously employed with the respective employers for at least 26 weeks ending with the relevant week (i.e. the week immediately preceding the 14th week before the expected week of birth or the week in which the parents are notified that a child is matched for adoption with them);
The main points of the new scheme
- Qualifying parents will be able to share between them up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay (that is everything other than 2 weeks compulsory maternity leave period). The mother will be entitled to give notice that she wishes to end her maternity leave and start SPL before the child’s birth (however she can change her mind within 6 weeks of birth).
- Both parents will need to give their respective employer 8 weeks’ notice to begin SPL and claim SPP. If they wish to take several blocks of leave, then they must give their employer 8 weeks’ notice in respect of each leave period. At the same time employees will be expected to provide a non-binding indication of their expected pattern of leave.
- During the first 2 weeks of the notice period, the employer is required to consider the request and either consent to the period(s) of leave requested, propose alternative dates or refuse the period(s) of leave without proposing further dates
- Employers will not be obliged to agree the SPL pattern proposed by their employee. The parent’s respective employers will not need to contact each other to discuss their employees’ leave entitlements. Where agreement cannot be reached, the parent will be entitled to take the portion of leave in one continuous block, to start on a date of their choice.
- Parents will be able to take SPL at the same time as each other or separately.
- Each employee can make up to 3 notifications for leave or changes to period of leave (inclusive of the original request to take SPL).
- An employee returning to work from SPL will have the right to return to the same job, no matter how many period of shared parental leave they have taken, as long as they have taken 26 weeks or less leave in total. Once they have exceeded 26 weeks leave, they would only have the right to return to the same or similar job.
Changes to current Parental Leave legislation
Parental leave is for employees to take time off to look after a child’s welfare (which is normally unpaid). Currently, leave can be taken up to the child’s 5th birthday, however, in April 2015 the age limit will increase to include any child under the age of 18 years.
Amy Hallam – Employment Law Solicitor, BRM Solicitors
If you need advice on what your business will need to do to comply with Shared Parental Leave or Parental Leave legislation, please telephone Amy Hallam or Shelley Croft-Rayner on 01246 555111 or email email@example.com.