Shared parental leave brings new complications for employers
From 1 December 2014 (and not 1 October as originally anticipated), the new Shared Parental Leave (SPL) regulations will come into force in England and Wales. These will be provided alongside the current Maternity and Parental Leave regulations 1999, giving employees a choice about how they manage their childcare.
How Shared Parental Leave works
For babies due (or a child adopted) on or after 5 April 2015, the new parents will now have a choice of maternity leave for the mother and/or SPL for both parents. The current system of Additional Paternity Leave (APL) and Pay will be abolished.
In summary, SPL works as follows:
- Parents can share 50 weeks’ leave in the year following a child’s birth or adoption (the mother must take the first two weeks post birth). Leave can be taken concurrently or consecutively, in blocks of weeks or continuously.
- Both parents will be paid during their period of SPL (subject to service and income requirements), up to the relevant existing levels of statutory maternity pay.
In order to qualify for SPL the mother must curtail her maternity rights and opt into the SPL regime. Both parents must also satisfy service requirements to qualify for SPL. Once opted into the SPL regime, a mother may not revert to her maternity rights.
The new Shared Parental Leave regulations will impose new administrative requirements for HR and it is vital that systems are in place for tracking and managing different leave patterns before April 2015. As maternity leave will continue to be available alongside Shared Parental Leave, it is important that employees understand the options available to them. Companies should communicate the new arrangements to any affected employees to ensure that they make an informed decision and there are no grounds for redress should they feel misinformed.
Children and Families Act 2014
Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014
Statutory Shared Parental Pay (General) Regulations 2014
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