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Key dates for shared parental leave

Posted on 17th July 2014
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Parents of children expected to be born or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015 will be able to take shared parental leave and share parental pay. Whilst the right has been called shared parental leave it is equivalent to shared maternity leave and shared maternity pay. We look at the key dates leading up to 5 April 2015.

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Julie Temple Julie
Temple
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As an employer and people manager you would be forgiven for thinking you do not need to worry about shared parental leave (or shared maternity leave) until next year but you’d be wrong. Below are the key dates:

29 June 2014

Whilst this may not be something you want to think about (and I sympathise), employees who will be entitled to shared paternity leave and shared paternity leave under the shared parental leave 2015 rights will be falling pregnant from 29 June 2014 onwards. Employers can expect to receive notification of pregnancy at any time from now. 

21 September 2014

Some, but not all employees, tell employers they are pregnant after the 12 week scan. This will be taking place from around 21 September 2014. Some employees will tell you much earlier.

1 October 2014

If the regulations come into force on 1 October 2014 (see note below), from this date employees will be protected from detriment and dismissal because they alert you to a wish to take shared parental leave.

Also from 1 October 2014, some employees will be able to accompany pregnant employees to ante-natal appointments. Click on the link to read our update.

26 December 2014

Pregnant employees wishing to take maternity leave must notify their employer they are pregnant and say when they want maternity leave to start by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. This requirement is unchanged by the shared parental leave 2015 rights.

The 15th week before the expected week of childbirth for employees due on 5 April 2015 starts on Sunday 21 December 2014. The last date for notification is 26 December 2014. 

18 January 2015

The earliest pregnant employees can start maternity leave is the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth. The earliest an employee expecting on 5 April 2015 can start maternity leave is 18 January 2015.

23 February 2015

A pregnant employee must give at least eight weeks’ notice to their employer if they wish to start shared parental leave and receive shared parental pay. This may be because they want to start shared parental leave and receive pay themselves, take shared parental leave and receive pay at the same time as their partner or return to work and their partner enjoy a period of shared parental leave and receive shared parental pay.

Partners must also give eight weeks’ notice to their employer if they want to start a period of shared parental leave and receive shared parental pay.

The earliest date shared parental leave can start (the reasons why are below) is 20 April 2015 (assuming birth takes place on 5 April 2015). If shared parental leave and pay is to start on that date notice must have been given by 23 February 2015.

5 April 2015 - 19 April 2015

Women who actually give birth on 5 April 2015 must take these two weeks off as compulsory maternity leave. This is the only period of maternity leave and maternity pay that cannot be shared.

Compulsory maternity leave could be earlier if the baby is born prematurely. Even if premature, where the baby was expected to be born on or after 5 April 2015, the rights to shared parental leave and shared parental pay will continue to apply.

20 April 2015

This is the earliest date shared parental leave can start subject to complying with the notice periods above.

For an overview of shared parental leave 2015 or answers to key questions about shared parental leave click on the links.

Regulations in draft

The regulations introducing shared parental leave are expected to come into force on 1 October 2014. The shared parental leave and pay regulations are currently in draft form. Click on the link if you want to read the draft regulations. I don't recommend it. They do not make for easy reading! We will let you know when the draft regulations are finalised. If you don’t receive our hrlegalnews email bulletin you can sign up to receive our free employment law updates and HR news email by following the link.

 

Adoption and surrogacy

This article explains the key dates for pregnancy but similar provisions are being introduced to allow shared parental leave and shared parental pay where a notification of a match of adoption or a child is placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015 and for certain surrogacy arrangements. Speak to one of our specialist employment law solicitors if you want to find out more.

 

Claims for discrimination

If you pay employees on maternity leave more than statutory maternity pay you will need to carefully consider if you will offer partners exercising their rights to shared parental leave the same enhanced levels of pay. Employees taking shared parental leave could claim they are being discriminated against if you do not. This follows a European case, Alvarez, we featured back in 2010.

 

In practice

All employers and people managers need to be considering the impact of shared parental leave and shared parental pay on their organisation, in addition to beginning to review and think about appropriate changes to current policies on parental leave, paternity leave and maternity leave to ensure that they deal with this upcoming change (although finalising changes would be best left until the regulations are finalised!).

Our specialist employment law solicitors can help you plan and better understand any of the implications of this quite significant change.

 

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