New entitlement- shared parental leave

Shared Parental Leave

The government has introduced an entitlement for employees who are parents (whether by birth or adoption) to take shared parental leave in the 1st year of their child’s life or placement.

This will mean that the mother or adopter can share some of her maternity leave with her partner. A mother must take at least 2 weeks maternity/ adoption leave once the child is born or adopted however the remaining 50 weeks would be available for shared parental leave.

Parents will not be obliged to take shared parental leave once the new scheme comes into force. The default position on the birth  or adoption of a child will be 52 weeks of maternity/ adoption leave and fathers will still be entitled to their 2 weeks’ paternity leave straight after a child’s birth. However additional paternity leave and pay will be abolished.

The option to use the new shared parental leave rights will apply for parents who meet the eligibility criteria, where a baby is due to be born on or after 5th April 2015, or for children who are placed for adoption on or after that date.

Shared parental LEAVE qualifying conditions

To qualify for shared parental leave an employee must have been continuously employed for 26 weeks up to an including the 15th week before the week in which the child is due to be born and must be employed in the first week of shared parental leave. This is called the continuity of employment test.

Where an employee is adopting, he or she has to have been continuously employed for 26 weeks in the week in which the adopter is notified of having been matched with a child for adoption, and is still employed in the week before any shared parental leave is due to start.

The employee must share the main responsibility for the care of that child.

The other parent must meet an “employment and earnings test”. To meet this test the other parent must have worked for at least 26 weeks (not necessarily continuously) in the 66 weeks leading up to the due date (or matched for adoption) and have earned £30 a week in 13 of those weeks (not necessarily continuously).

Shared Parental PAY qualifying conditions

To qualify for shared parental pay the parent must meet the qualifying requirements for shared parental leave and have a partner who meets the employment and earnings test. In addition the employee must have earned an average salary £111 or more for the 8 weeks’ prior to the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth or the week that the adopter is notified of being matched with a child.

If a parent qualifies for shared parental leave pay they will be entitled to pay for 39 weeks (less any statutory maternity pay or adoption pay claimed by either parent). This will be at £138.18 for 33 weeks – if first 6 weeks is available will be at 90% of his or her average weekly earnings before tax or £138.18 whichever is lower.

Notification

It is the employee’s responsibility to check that they are eligible for shared parental leave and/or pay and they must give their employer a written declaration confirming that they are eligible. This must be given at least 8 weeks before any shared parental leave or pay can be taken and must  include:

  1. The number of weeks that the mother or adopter took maternity or adoption leave;
  2. How many weeks of shared parental leave and pay is available to the employee and their partner;
  3. the amount of leave each parent intends to take;
  4. a declaration from your employee’s partner stating that he or she meets the employment and earnings test. This declaration will also state that he or she gives their consent to your employee taking shared parental leave and/ or pay and to you processing information provided by them; and
  5. a non-binding indication of when the employee is intending to take leave.

You are not required to check whether the information provided by the other parent is correct or whether they meet the employment and earnings test. However you are entitled to ask your employee for the name and address of their partner’s employer. You may also ask for a copy of the child’s birth certificate.

Periods of notice

An employee may only give you 3 notices to book leave or to vary a previously agreed pattern of leave. However if you want to you can choose to accept more than 3 booking notices. Each notification to book leave may notify a single, continuous block of leave or may request discontinuous periods of leave.

If your employee is asking to take a single block of leave in their booking notice they are entitled to take it. You cannot refuse such a notification.

Your employee may request a pattern of discontinuous leave (e.g. 2 weeks in June, 3 weeks in September and all of November) in the same notification. You do not have to agree to this pattern. You will have a 2 week discussion period, to talk to the employee about the pattern of leave that they have requested and propose alternatives, or to refuse the pattern. You cannot stop the employee from taking the amount of leave requested in the notice, but you can change how and when it is taken.

If you refuse the proposed pattern and do not agree any other pattern with the employee, the weeks of leave in the notice may be taken in a single continuous block starting on the a date specified by the employee (not less than 8 weeks from the date the original notice was given to you). Your employee has 5 days after the end of the 2 week discussion period in which to specify the date they will start their leave. In no date is specified, the leave will begin on the start date of the first period of discontinuous leave that the employee originally applied for.  Alternatively the employee can withdraw their notice.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Claire Berry on 01480442040 or email claire.berry@leedsday.co.uk


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