Mothers/Adopters are currently entitled to 52 weeks Maternity/Adoption Leave and 39 weeks Statutory Maternity/Adoption Pay. New regulations due to come into force on 1st December 2014 for all babies born on or after 5th April 2015 allow mothers to share this with their partner or father of her child if she decides to return to work early.
A parent seeking to take Shared Parental Leave (SPL) 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 taken.
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 of £30 week in 13 of the 66 weeks.
To qualify for Shared ParentalPay(ShPP) the parent must, as well as satisfying the eligibility requirements above, have earned an average salary of the lower earnings limit or more (currently £111) for the 8 weeks' prior to the 15th week before the expected week of confinement.
Shared Parental Pay is currently £138.18 per week which means it is likely that the mother will take the first 6 weeks as Maternity Leave as it is paid at 90% of average earnings.
How can Employers manage a request for Shared Parental Leave?
In order to avoid a logistical challenge, it is essential for Employers to liaise with parents as early as possible about their intentions to take Shared Parental Leave. Parents must provide at least 8 weeks notice via an ShPP1 form and their request will be binding once it is made.
Parents can choose to opt into Shared Parental Leave at any time, so long as there is some untaken maternity leave to share. There is a legal requirement that a mother has to remain off work for 2 weeks after her baby is born or 4 if she works in a factory.
Written notice must be provided by the Employee of their entitlement to SPL and ShPP, including:
- The partner’s name
- Start and end dates for maternity or adoption leave and pay
- The total amount of SPL and ShPP available and how much the employee and their partner intend to take
- Confirmation that the employee is sharing childcare responsibility with their partner
There must also include a signed declaration from the employee’s partner stating:
- Their name, address and National Insurance number
- That they satisfy the qualifying requirements for SPL and ShPP
- That they agree to the employee taking SPL and ShPP
After receiving this notice, an employer has 14 days if they want to ask for:
- A copy of the child’s birth certificate
- The name and address of the partner’s employer
- An employee must provide this information within 14 days.
There are two types of ShPL that can be taken.
If a parent makes a request for continuous leave then the Employer must accept it. Essentially continuous leave is made in one block and involves the father or partner of the mother taking the rest of the mother’s leave/pay while she returns to work.
An employee can book up to 3 separate blocks of at least one week of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) instead of taking it all in one go.
If an employee’s partner is eligible for SPL, they can take leave at different times - or both at the same time.
However, they must give at least 8 weeks’ notice before they want to begin a block of leave and an Employer is entitled to refuse the request.
It is important that the Employer agrees the working patterns that an employee on discontinuous leave have as it could be potentially very complicated, as the following example demonstrates:
- A mother could finish her maternity leave at the end of December and take shared parental leave instead.
- Her partner could take their first block of leave in the first week of January and then the mother takes her first block of leave on the second week of January.
- Then the partner could take the third week as their second block with the mother taking the fourth week as her second block etc.
- They could then both have February off as together as their third block of leave.
Keep in touch days
Keep in touch days still apply during Shared Parental Leave and each parent can agree with their Employer to take up to 10 KIT days each.
Enhanced Maternity Pay
If an Employer offers enhanced maternity pay it can also consider enhancing Shared Parental Pay. However this is not a legal requirement.
Returning to work following Shared Parental Leave
If an employee takes shared parental leave they have the right to return to their previous role following a period of leave of 26 weeks, following 26 weeks they have the right to return to a similar role on the same terms and conditions.