The idea behind Shared Parental Leave is that it entitles mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to decide how to share time off work after the birth or placement for adoption. It is designed to give parents more flexibility in how to share the care of their child in the first year following birth or adoption.
With effect from 6th April 2015 parents or adopters of children born after this date will be able to take advantage of shared parental leave. ACAS have issued the following guidance for employers:
What does it mean?
- Employed mothers will continue to be entitled to 52 weeks of Maternity Leave and 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance.
- If they choose to do so, an eligible mother can end her maternity leave early and, with her partner or the child’s father, opt for Shared Parental Leave instead of Maternity Leave. If they both meet the qualifying requirements, they will need to decide how they want to divide their Shared Parental Leave and Pay entitlement.
- Paid Paternity Leave of two weeks will continue to be available to fathers and a mother’s or adopter’s partner, however Additional Paternity Leave will be removed (Shared Parental Leave will replace it).
- Adopters will have the same rights as other parents to Shared Parental leave and pay.
Shared Parental Leave will enable eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed for adoption. This could mean that the mother or adopter shares some of the leave with her partner, perhaps returning to work for part of the time and then resuming leave at a later date
What is the Process?
To qualify, the mother or adopter must be entitled to, and have given notice to curtail their, maternity or adoption entitlements and must share the main responsibility for caring for the child with the child’s father or their partner.
Who qualifies for Shared Parental Leave?
For a parent to be eligible to take Shared Parental Leave they must be an employee and they must pass the continuity of employment test. In turn, the other parent in the family must meet the employment and earnings test.
- Continuity of employment test: the person 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.
- Employment and earnings test: the person must have worked for at least 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.
It will be for the mother or adopter to decide whether to just use their maternity or adoption entitlement or use Shared Parental Leave at some point. However, a mother or adopter does not have to have actually ended their maternity or adoption entitlements for Shared Parental Leave to start for their partner. Provided the mother or adopter has given advance notice reducing their maternity or adoption entitlements their partner can start to take Shared Parental Leave. This means their partner could begin to take Shared Parental Leave while the mother or adopter is still on maternity or adoption leave.
Shared Parental Leave may be taken at any time within the period which begins on the date the child is born/date of the placement and ends 52 weeks after that date. An employee is entitled to submit three separate notices to book leave. Leave must be taken in complete weeks and may be taken either in a continuous period, which an employer cannot refuse, or in a discontinuous period, which the employer can refuse. If a request for discontinuous leave is refused then the total amount of leave requested in the notice will automatically become a continuous block unless it is withdrawn.
Shared Parental Pay
Statutory Shared parental pay is paid at £138.18 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). Statutory Shared Parental Pay will increase to £139.58 per week from 5 April 2015.
If the mother or adopter curtails their entitlement to maternity/adoption pay or maternity allowance before they have used their full entitlement then Shared parental pay can be claimed for any remaining weeks.
To qualify for Shared Parental Pay a parent must, as well as passing the continuity of employment test also have earned an average salary of the lower earnings limit of £111 for the 8 weeks’ prior to the 15th week before the expected due date or matching date. Like Shared Parental Leave the other parent in the family must meet the employment and earnings test.