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New Legislation

Overview of shared parental leave

Parents of children expected to be born or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015 will be able to share parental leave and share parental pay. Whilst called shared parental leave, the right is equivalent to shared maternity leave and shared maternity pay.

An overview of the right to shared parental leave

  • The right to shared parental leave applies for children expected to be born on or after 5 April 2015.
  • Parents will be able to share parental leave of up to 50 weeks and parental leave pay of up to 37 weeks.
  • Shared parental leave can be taken in several blocks.
  • Parents can take shared parental leave at the same time or separately.
  • Eight weeks’ notice must be given to take shared parental leave and to claim shared parental pay.
  • Employees will need to give a non-binding indication of their expected pattern of shared parental leave when they notify their employer of their wish to take shared parental leave.
  • An employee can make up to three notifications (including changes of dates) to take shared parental leave but it is open to the parties to agree further periods.
  • Each parent can take 20 KIT-type days. This is in addition to the mother’s existing 10 KIT day entitlement during maternity leave.
  • An employee returning to work from shared parental leave will have the right to return to the same job no matter how many periods of shared parental leave they have taken, as long as they have taken 26 or fewer weeks’ shared parental leave in total.

Click the links for details of key dates for shared parental leave and shared parental pay and key questions about shared parental leave.

Adoption and surrogacy

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.

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.

Further updates

The regulations introducing shared parental leave and shared parental pay are currently in draft. Although unlikely some of the above may change before they are finalised. To make sure you are fully up to date sign up to our free employment law update and hrlegalnews email by clicking the link at the bottom of the page if you do not already receive hrlegalnews.

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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