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What Employers Need to Know About the New Shared Parental Leave Laws

The new Shared Parental Leave legislation is arguably one of the most complex pieces of employment legislation that has been introduced in recent years, and as employees become aware of their new entitlement and begin submitting notifications for Shared Parental Leave (SPL), Employers will need to be aware of, and able to correctly manage the following:  

  1. What shared parental leave is
  2. Who is entitled to SPL
  3. How employees can opt in to shared parental leave and pay
  4. How employees can end their maternity leave
  5. How Employee’s partners’ can end their maternity leave or pay
  6. Evidence of entitlement Employers can request
  7. How employees should book their SPL dates
  8. The procedure for requesting split periods of SPL
  9. How employees can change the dates or cancel their SPL
  10. How to manage premature births
  11. Shared parental pay
  12. Other terms during shared parental leave
  13. Employees keeping in touch
  14. Employees returning to work

Do Employers Need a Shared Parental Leave Policy?

A well-drafted SPL policy will help ensure Employers respond consistently to SPL notifications and meet their statutory obligations in respect managing SPL notifications they receive.

We encourage those Employers who have not already introduced a Shared Parental Leave policy to do so, to ensure there is clarity and a robust point of reference for both managers and employees to assist with managing SPL notifications going forward.

In this article we have highlighted the following key aspects of SPL that Employers should be aware of from 5 April 2015.

  1. What is Shared Parental Leave
  2. Who is Entitled to Shared Parental Leave
  3. How Much Employees Get Paid

What is Shared Parental Leave?

Courtesy of the Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA 2014), which adds new provisions to Part 8 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, a new system of statutory parental rights was introduced yesterday (5 April 2015) which allows parents to share leave and pay following the birth or adoption of a child.

Employed parents who take this new shared parental leave (SPL) will be eligible for a new statutory payment, shared parental pay (ShPP). Self-employed parents will not be entitled to ShPP, but if they satisfy certain earnings criteria, their employed partner may be entitled.

Parents will remain entitled to take maternity, paternity and adoption leave. However, an eligible mother or adopter may now choose to reduce their maternity/adoption leave early and opt in to SPL.

A birth mother must take at least two weeks maternity leave following the birth of a child (four weeks for manual work in a factory environment) but can otherwise choose to end her maternity leave at any stage.

An adopter can end their adoption leave once they have taken it for two weeks.

Who is Entitled to Shared Parental Leave:

For Births

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.              

For Adoptions:

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

Those eligible for SPL can use it to take leave in blocks separated by periods of work, instead of taking it all in one go.

How Much Do Employees Get Paid?

ShPP is paid at the rate of £139.58 a week or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

This is the same as Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) except that during the first 6 weeks SMP is paid at 90% of whatever the employee earns (with no maximum).

In advance of these new provision coming into force on 5 April 2015, the Statutory Shared Parental Pay (Administration) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2929) were introduced on 1 December 2014. They make provision for employers to recoup 92% of ShPP payments from HMRC, and for an additional payment to be made to employers that qualify for small employer's relief.

Summary on Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave is a legal entitlement.  Qualifying employees have the legal right to choose to take SPL, to determine when they take it and to not suffer any detriment for using or seeking to use SPL.

With the complexities of how employees should submit notifications, discontinuous leave requests, an Employers’ ability to refuse discontinuous leave requests and the subsequent default position thereafter, Employers must ensure they are fully aware of their obligations, and have in place the appropriate systems and processes to ensure all requests are managed, considered and decided on fairly and legally.

How can EmployEasily Legal Services help you?

Are your family friendly HR polcies fully up to date and refelctive of the recent changes to Flexible Working and introduction of Shared Parental Leave?  At EmployEasily Legal Services offer a free consultation during which we can audit your existing HR policies and contracts of employment and then provide you with a 'gap analysis' identifying any areas that might require attention.

Contact us today to find out how EmployEasily Legal Services can help you prevent problems and protect your business!

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