Fathers can now share parental leave
Since April this year a new system for allowing parents to care for their newborn (or adopted) children has come into force, called Shared Parental Leave. The idea is simple in principle: it allows parents to share a specified time off work to care for their children in the first year following birth or adoption. They can take time off together or separately. The motivation behind it is to increase flexibility in the workplace and to allow fathers to share more of the responsibility for child care. There’s nothing to complain about there, save that the devil is always in the detail and there’s lots of detailed regulations where Shared Parental Leave is concerned.
To whom does it apply?
- It only applies to eligible parents where the baby was born/child was placed for adoption on or after 5th April 2015
- An eligible person (most probably but not necessarily the mother) is an employee who has worked for the employer for 26 continuous weeks at the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth; and has given notice to curtail their maternity or adoption rights in favour of SPL. She must share the main responsibility for the care for the child and still be in employment in the first week that SPL is to be taken.
- The other parent must pass the earnings and employment test, which means they must have worked for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to the due date and have earned at least £30 per week in 13 of those 66 weeks.
- If both parents satisfy both tests then both can take SPL. However, SPL is still available if only one parent qualifies – for instance if one parent is self-employed he/she can’t take SPL, but may pass the employment and earnings test and thus allow the other parent to take SPL.
When does it apply?
- SPL may be taken at any time within the first 52 weeks following birth or placement. Up to 52 weeks leave can be taken by the parents, together or separately. This amount is reduced by the amount of maternity leave that the mother takes.
- Leave must be taken in complete weeks in a continuous period (which the employer must allow) or in discontinuous period, which the employer can refuse.
- SPL can stop and start with each eligible parent able to submit three notices requesting to book SPL during that 52 week period.
More information is available at the ACAS website – www.acas.org.uk or contact us if you need assistance. It is a difficult set of Regulations and both employers and employees need to be talking to each other at an early stage as soon as a pregnancy/adoption situation arises to try and arrange SPL to the mutual benefit of both parties.