Shared parental leave

Emma Newbould, employment and HR solicitor at Napthens, explains the new family-friendly rules.

What is Shared Parental Leave (SPL)?

A type of family-friendly leave which will apply to eligible parents of babies born (or placed for adoption) on or after 1 April 2015. Designed to offer greater flexibility in managing childcare responsibilities during the child’s first year, it allows parents to share a ‘pot’ of leave.

How will it work?

Employed mothers will remain entitled to 52 weeks maternity leave and 39 weeks statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance. If they choose, they will be able to end maternity leave early and opt for SPL with their partner/child’s father. The parents will decide how to divide their total SPL and pay entitlement between them.

The mother’s partner can start a period of SPL whilst the mother is still on maternity leave, provided the mother has submitted a notice stating when maternity leave will end, and her partner has complied with certain notification obligations.

The right to 2 weeks’ Ordinary Paternity Leave will remain, but Additional Paternity Leave will be abolished in favour of SPL.

Can an SPL request be refused?

If relevant notification requirements have been met an employer cannot refuse a request for a continuous block of leave. However, a request for discontinuous leave can be refused within 14 days of being made.What should employers do now?

  • Consider the likely impact of SPL and who will administer requests.
  • Consider whether to enhance statutory pay entitlements for employees taking SPL.
  • Develop a policy to deal with requests and train relevant personnel.
  • Amend existing family friendly policies to reflect the new regime.
  • Communicate policy changes to employees.

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