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Shared Parental Leave: The Basics

Today, the new regulations regarding Shared Parental Leave (SPL) come into force. The new regulations give parents greater flexibility in how they share the care of their child in the first year after birth. SLP will apply to couples with babies due or children placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015, allowing parents to choose whether they want to share the mother’s maternity leave.

ACAS have revealed that there are expected to be as many as 285,000 working couples that will be eligible to share leave from April 2015. Employers could start to receive notices of eligibility and the intention to take Shared Parental Leave from qualifying employees from January 2015. These changes are likely to cause confusion or misunderstanding amongst employers and managers. If you would like to speak to a member of our team about SPL, contact us today. To download the ACAS good practice guide on SLP Click here.

The new laws will scrap Additional Paternity Leave and Pay, replacing these with Shared Parental Leave, under which eligible parents (including adopters) can opt to spit 50 weeks maternity leave and 37 weeks pay between them. The mother is still required to take at least 2 weeks of maternity leave immediately after the birth, leaving the remaining 50 weeks to be split as desired. Unlike the current Additional Paternity Leave, parents under the new arrangements can opt to take some of the leave concurrently, and they can apply to their employers to take the leave in several (up to 3) stretches rather than as one continuous block

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said "The new Shared Parental Leave rules will give real choice to parents. We all know that every family has its own unique set of circumstances, and Shared Parental Leave reflects that reality.

Up until now, families have had very limited options when it comes to juggling the demands of work with the arrival of a new baby. The old maternity leave system reinforced the archaic assumptions that the bulk of childcare responsibilities should be done by mums, and failed to recognise the vitally important role that dads and partners have to play."

To be eligible for SPL, a parent 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.

Past studies have shown that employees are more productive and motivated when given the opportunity to work flexibly, and Shared Parental Leave will help employers to retain committed and knowledgeable staff.

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