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Do you understand the new Shared Parental Leave Law?

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Shared Parental Leave legislation will be introduced in England, Scotland and Wales inApril this year. The government aims to extend the same rights for caring for anew born baby or adopted child to both mother and father, giving a more flexibility approach to how they take their leave.

SO HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOU?

Research suggests only 10% of fathers take the current Additional Paternity Leave, so as of 5th April this new legislation will replace existing Additional Paternity Leave (APL) and allow parents of new born or newly adopted children to have more control over how and when they decide to take their entitlement to leave.

Parents will have a pot of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) that they can share between themselves as they see fit. Families can decide the best way to provide care, allowing the father to be the primary carer and parents to take leave for their baby or adopted child at the same time.

HOW IS IT DIFFERENT TO EXISTING LEGISLATION?

Currently, mothers are entitled to 39 weeks of paid Statutory Maternity Leave and fathers can take up to 26 weeks of Additional Paternity Leave, provided the mother's Maternity Leave has ended.

However, SPL means that as soon as the baby is born or the child is adopted, leave can be taken at the same time by both mother and father, so they can both be at home at the same time.

Also, SPL doesn't all need to be taken at the same time in one block. Parents can agree a schedule where they return to work for a period of time, and then take SPL again.

So for example, both mother and father could take a block of time off together, and then could alternate between being at work and SPL, sharing the remaining time equally between each other so one parent is on leave at a time.

HOW MUCH IS SHARED PARENTAL LEAVE PAY?

Whilst some employers may have additional maternity and paternity benefits, the statutory pay for shared parental leave is:

6 weeks - 90% average weekly earnings

33 weeks - 90% average weekly earnings OR 138.18 (whichever is lowest)

For example, a mother with weekly average earnings of 250, for the first 6 weeks she would receive 225 per week. For the remaining 33 weeks this would change to 138.18.

The pay is calculated individually for the parent taking the leave at that time, with the partner resuming normal pay conditions whilst at work.

Not only does this challenge the assumption that men earn more than women but allows for families to find the most financially viable way of taking time off to care for a child.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR EMPLOYEES?

Under this new legislation, Shared Parental Leave ensures that whether you're a mother or father, your rights are protected. So when returning to work, both you job position is protected in the same way as Maternity Leave

You are still also entitled to in touch days, called SPLIT days (Shared Parental Leave In-Touch).

Most importantly as an employee, start discussing your plans with your employer as soon as possible. Whilst the legislation allows for flexibility, you must notify your employer 8 weeks in advance of your intentions, so it's important to set out your plans with your employer and keep them informed of any changes.

Your employer should have a Shared Parental Leave Policy in place and give you the relevant advice you need to plan and prepare.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR EMPLOYERS?

As with any new piece of legislation, businesses and HR departments need to understand the implications in full to make sure you are protecting your employees' rights.

It's important for you to have a Shared Parental Leave Policy that is easily accessible and should clearly set out:

  • An explanation of the concept
  • How much SPL is available
  • Notice requirements
  • Eligibility
  • Employees' rights
  • SPLIT days

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

In order to be eligible for Shared Parental Leave you or your partner must be eligible for maternity pay or leave, or maternity allowance, or adoption pay or leave.

You must share the care of your child with:

  • your husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter;
  • the child's other parent;
  • your partner (if they live with you and the child).

You must also:

For your partner to be eligible, during the 66 weeks before the baby is due or adoption date agreed, your partner must:

If you need more information about your Shared Parental Leave, or you need help drafting your Shared Parental Leave Policy, please speak to an Employment Law Solicitor on 01484 437 400.

  • have been in continuous employment for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date (or by the date you adopt your child);
  • be employed by the same employer while you take SPL.
    • have been working for at least 26 weeks (not necessarily in a row);
    • have earned at least 30 a week on average in 13 of the 66 weeks.

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