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Why introduce a Shared Parental Leave scheme?

25th June, 2015

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) replaces the provisions of additional paternity leave which proved to be unpopular, with only about 0.6% of eligible employees taking advantage of it. SPL aims to be more flexible by allowing the parents of children born on or after 5 April 2015 to share blocks of leave in the first year of the child’s life (or following adoption).

WHO WILL BE ABLE TO TAKE SPL?

A mother and the child’s other parent
A mother who is entitled to statutory maternity leave, statutory maternity pay, or maternity allowance, may curtail her entitlement so that she and the child’s other parent may share the balance of the leave, pay, or allowance period as SPL.

A primary adopter and the child’s other adoptive parent
A “primary adopter” who is entitled to statutory adoption leave or statutory adoption pay, may curtail their entitlement so that they and the child’s other adoptive parent may share the balance of the leave or pay period as SPL.

ELIGIBILITY TO TAKE SPL

Where the mother or primary adopter wants to take SPL, they must:

• Satisfy the “continuity of employment test” (broadly speaking, they must be an employee with 26 weeks employment (which doesn’t need to be consecutive) at the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth and still in employment);

• Have the main responsibility for the care of the child (apart from any responsibility of their partner);

• Be entitled to statutory maternity or adoption leave;

There are also conditions that the partner must satisfy if the mother or primary adopter is to take SPL:

• Satisfy the “employment and earnings test”;

• Have the main responsibility for the care of the child (apart from any responsibility of the mother or primary adopter).

DO BOTH PARENTS NEED TO BE EMPLOYEES?

No. The SPL scheme has a wide application. There are a number of situations where only one parent will take leave from employment, as long as the other parent (who does not need to be an employee) meets certain criteria.

IDENTIFYING HOW MUCH SPL IS AVAILABLE TO EACH PARENT

Both parents must agree between them the amount of SPL each of them will take. Neither parent can take SPL unless the other has signed a declaration giving their consent to the division of leave as set out in the notice of entitlement and intention to take SPL.

SPL must be taken in multiples of complete weeks. It may be taken as one continuous period or in discontinuous periods but the minimum period of SPL which may be taken is one week.

An employer must accept a notice that requests one continuous period of SPL. However, where a notice requests discontinuous periods, the employer has two weeks to:

– Accept the request;
– Propose alternatives;
– Refuse the request.

PROCEDURE FOR TAKING SPL

To bring forward the date on which statutory maternity or adoption leave ends and start SPL, the mother or primary adopter must give the employer:

1. A leave curtailment notice (this ends the leave);

2. A notice of entitlement and intention to take SPL; and

3. A declaration of consent and entitlement (this is a written declaration by the father stating that the mother has given a notice of entitlement and intention to take SPL and they have provided a declaration on that notice); and

4. A period of leave notice.

AARON & PARTNERS LLP: SHARED PARENTAL LEAVE PACK

The procedure for taking SPL is complicated and employers are advised to have clear policies in place with precedents of the requisite notices that the employee must serve on the employer to take SPL.

Aaron & Partners LLP offers a Shared Parental Leave pack consisting of detailed guidance, the required standard letters and notices and a Shared Parental Leave Policy which you can insert into your existing Staff Handbook.

For further advice or guidance in relation to shared parental leave, please do not hesitate to contact Claire Brook on email 01244 405 575 or [email protected]

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