Guidance published on shared parental leave - Palmers Solicitors

Guidance published on shared parental leave

New guidance on shared parental leave rights has been launched for people expecting a baby, or due to adopt a child, from next April and their employers.

The guide was published by workplace experts Acas on 14 October to explain the new legal right allowing couples to share maternity or adoption leave and pay from 5 April 2015.

It includes step by step guidance on how eligible employees can make a shared parental leave (SPL) request to their employer and advice for employers on how to deal with SPL requests fairly.

Acas head of guidance Stewart Gee said: “We advise employers and employees to start early with discussions to ensure that they can agree the sort of arrangements which work best for business and working families.”

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills estimates that around 285,000 working couples could be eligible to share their leave from April.

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said: “I’m delighted that we’re introducing shared parental leave from next April, which will let couples choose how to share time away from work to care for their new baby in a way that suits them best. Shared parental leave is not only good news for parents-to-be, but for employers who will benefit from having a workforce that is more flexible and motivated.”

The option to use the new shared parental leave rights will apply to parents meeting eligibility criteria and where a baby is due to be born or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015.

To qualify for shared parental leave and pay, a mother must be entitled to maternity or adoption leave, or statutory maternity or adoption pay or maternity allowance and must share the main responsibility for caring for the child with the child’s father or her partner. There are two more steps to establish eligibility:

  • a parent seeking to take shared parental leave must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) or at the week when they were notified of having been matched with a child for adoption. They must still be employed in the first week that shared parental leave is to be taken. The other parent must have worked for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to the due date and have earned more than £30 a week in 13 of those weeks; and
  • to qualify for shared parental pay the parent must, as well as passing the continuity test, have earned an average salary of the lower earnings limit or more (currently £111) for the eight weeks’ prior to the 15th week before the EWC.

Lara Murray, associate solicitor in Palmers’ Employment Law team, said: “This reform of parental leave and pay will give parents much greater flexibility in the first weeks and months they are caring for their new baby or adopted child.”

“I am urging employers to update their internal policies and procedures to ensure that  they understand their obligations and responsibilities, so that they can comply fully with the new rules. For further information and clarification, please contact our Employment Law team.”