From 5 April 2015 the long awaited rules in relation to Shared Parental Leave (“SPL”) will come into effect. Whilst this may still seem some way in the future, from this month those wishing to take such leave will start handing in their notices and employers need to ensure the requisite procedures are in place. The rules apply to children due (it does not matter when the child is actually born) or matched for adoption on or after 5 April 2015. Employees who are the intended parents in a surrogacy situation may also qualify for adoption leave and pay from 5 April 2015. From December 2014 employees have been protected against suffering a detriment if they request to utilise the new rules.
New parents will have a 50 week block of leave and it will be up to them to decide how they wish to share such leave. The only notable restrictions are;
From 5 April 2015 employees matched for adoption no longer need 26 weeks continuous service to be eligible for statutory adoption leave; they will be eligible from day one of their employment.
Shared Parental Leave: From October 2014 partners have been allowed unpaid time off to attend two ante-natal appointments (taking up to six and a half hours each time).
Adoption: From 5 April 2015, employees have the right to time off work to attend adoption appointments. The primary adopter has the right to paid time off to attend up to five adoption appointments, whilst the other adopter is entitled to unpaid time off to attend up to two appointments. Appointments may be for up to six and a half hours at a time. The right is available to employees from day one of employment.
Shared parental leave: Shared parental leave is paid for up to 37 weeks at the flat rate of statutory maternity pay, capped at the lower of £138.18 or 90% of pay. Unlike statutory maternity pay where the mother is entitled to receive an enhanced rate of 90% of actual pay for the first six weeks, shared parental pay will all be paid at the flat rate.
Adoption: Adopters who have a child matched with them on or after 5 April 2015 may be entitled to receive enhanced statutory adoption pay of 90% of their normal earnings for the first six weeks of leave. To qualify, they must satisfy certain criteria including having 26 weeks’ continuous service at the date of matching. Up to 33 weeks of remaining leave can be paid at the rate set by the Government or 90% of weekly earnings, whichever is lower. This brings adoption pay into line with the existing statutory regime for maternity pay.
There are 3 notices required to complete this procedure, often all three will be given at the same time but some employers may require 3 distinct notices.
Step 1: Mother must shorten her maternity leave and commit to sharing the untaken balance and pay with her partner. This notice can be revoked up to six weeks after birth allowing for a second curtailment notice to be served at a later stage. It may also be revoked in other circumstances i.e. if the partner dies, but here no right to make a second leave curtailment notice exists.
Step 2: Both parents must give their employer a notice of entitlement and intention to take parental leave. This notice is an indication only and is not binding. The notice must provide specific information such as:
Step 3: The mother and partner must each notify their employer before they take any of the block of shared parental leave with at least 8 weeks’ notice. Employees can withdraw or vary a notice to take a period of leave, generally with 8 weeks’ notice from the start date.