Shared parental leave - how it works

Sharing the babyShared Parental Leave (SPL) is a new law which enables parents to share parental leave between them. Since 5 April 2015, when you are due to have a baby, including adopting a child, you may now be entitled to share your parental leave (SPL). Fathers now have almost the same rights as mothers to parental leave following the birth of a child.

What is shared parental leave?

Under new laws which have just come into force, couples living together will be able to divide almost all of the traditional maternity leave between them. The right also applies to those adopting a child. 

How much time can parents take off?

Parents can effectively have a year – apart from a compulsory two week recovery period after child birth which the mother must take – and can divide the time between them in any combination.

Does at least one of parent have to be at work?

No. Parents can choose to take the time off together or overlap part of their entitlement.  It also does not have to be taken in a single block, therefore parents could intersperse periods of work and leave, for example, to enable them to return to the office for an important project or deadline and then go back on leave. 

When does it take effect?

Although the right came into force on 1 December 2014, it applies only to those with babies due on 5 April 2015 or later. However, if the baby arrives early, the shared leave entitlement will apply. 

What will parents be paid?

The existing right to statutory maternity pay (SMP) will be transferred to shared parental leave (SPL).  Mothers currently receive 90% of their normal salary for the first six weeks and then a statutory rate of currently £138 per week for the next thirty weeks. Fathers will be paid a share of the money depending on how much time they choose to take off. 

Can employers refuse?

No! Unlike the flexible working arrangements introduced in recent years, where workers only have a right to have a request properly considered, shared parental leave gives permanent employees the right to take the leave if they wish, in the same way as maternity leave. 

Who will check that both parents do not simply take a full year off?

The taxman. Each partner must make a legally binding declaration setting out what share they will take which can then be checked by HMRC to prevent fraud. 

 

If you require any further advice on this subject or any other employment related matter, please contact Paul Grindley on 0113 320500 or email  paulg@winstonsolicitors.co.uk.

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