Everything you need to know about Shared Parental Leave
If your baby is due on or after April 5th 2015, you could be eligible for Shared Parental leave, a new initiative being introduced in Scotland, England and Wales.
Shared Parental leave is set to replace Additional Paternity Leave. Although there will still be the option to take traditional maternity leave, the new offering provides options for both parents that aim to have a number of benefits, both to individual parents and to our wider culture – not only does it aim to allow both parents to spend more time with their new child as well as continue with their career goals, but it is hoped that on a wider scale this will help women in terms of the future of their careers after having children, as well as encouraging a reduction of the gender pay gap.
What Shared Parental Leave Offers
The first two weeks of parental leave following a birth, or adoption, will remain the same – for more information on this, see our previous article. Following this, there will be 50 weeks of leave available, which can be shared between both parents, and 37 weeks of pay.
Parents can take this paid time off at the same time – if they did this for the entire time, for example, this would mean that they would be able to take time off together for 6 months, which would add up to a combined 50 weeks.
They can also take it in up to three separate ‘blocks’ throughout the 52 week period, allowing each parent to have time individually with their new child and return to work at various intervals. Although there are rules stipulating advance notice of these blocks, which stands at 8 weeks, there is some possibility to change the schedule of leave should there be need to do so.
It is also possible to negotiate splitting a block of leave into a shorter amount of time, which must be at least a week, however although your employer must agree to you taking a block of leave, they do not have to agree to it being broken down into shorter periods.
To take Shared Parental Leave, both parents must be eligible for it. The eligibility clauses are as follows:
- You must opt in to the Shared Parental Leave system.
- You must both share care of the child – that is with either your spouse, civil partner, joint adopter or your partner who lives with you.
- The child’s mother, or adoptive parent, must be eligible for either maternity leave or pay, Maternity Allowance, or adoption leave or pay.
- The mother must have attained 26 weeks of service by the end of the 15th week before the due date, and be continuing to be employed by the same employer as they take Shared Parental Leave.
The mother’s partner, or other adoptive parent, must satisfy the following:
- They must have been working for at least 26 weeks – these do not need to have been continuous, and this can include being employed, self-employed or an agency worker.
- They must have earned at least £30 a week on average in 13 of the 66 weeks.
In addition to this, you must give correct notice, including a confirmation that your partner also meets the employment and income requirements necessary to allow them to receive Shared Parental Leave. Apart from the initial notification of Shared Parental Leave uptake, you must give your employer a further eight weeks’ notice of any period or ‘block’ of leave you intend to take.
You will both be eligible for statutory shared parental pay if you both qualify for statutory maternity and/or paternity pay.
For more information on the specifics of eligibility for these aspects of Shared Parental Leave, visit the government’s information page here.