The Shared Parental Leave Regulations came into force on Monday 1 December 2014 and apply to babies born on 1 April 2015 or after.
What is shared parental leave or “SPL”?
Parental leave originally set out with a few straight-forward objectives:
- to provide more flexibility in sharing the care of a child in the first year after birth (or adoption) rather than parents taking maternity or paternity leave;
- to allow parents to choose how to split the leave between them and decide whether to be off work at the same time or at different times; and
- to potentially enable parents to take leave in more than one block.
So far, so good. The problem is that the final version of the Regulations has done a very good job of making the scheme unnecessarily complicated! So by way of a reminder, here are the basics that you need to know:-
Eligible parents can take or share 50 weeks of shared parental leave and 37 weeks of shared parental pay (so leaving out the compulsory maternity leave period of two weeks). The mother (or primary adopter) can end, or commit to end at a later date, the maternity or adoption leave in order to share it with the other parent. SPL can be taken between the parents one after the other or at the same time. Although there are rules regarding how applications for non-continuous parental leave must be made and an employer's discretion to approve or refuse such requests, it’s a complicated area and we’d recommend that you speak to us if you encounter any problems or confusion with the new system.
We'd recommend all employers to revisit their policies to ensure they are up-to-date with the new system and make sure that your and managers are all aware of the new rights. If you feel there is a need for further training in this area for your managers and supervisors, then please get in touch.