First things first, what is it?
Shared Parental Leave (SPL) is a new entitlement that’s coming in as a way for parents to share the time off when they have a baby or adopt a child instead of the usual way of the mother having up to 52 weeks of maternity leave.
When does it start?
SPL will apply to parents expecting a baby after 5th April 2015 or adopting a child after that date. If one partner ends maternity or adoption leave early, the remaining leave will be available as SPL and remaining weeks of pay at ShPP.
Is there a time limit on when it can be taken?
SPL must be taken between the baby’s birth and first birthday or within one year of the date of adoption.
Which employees qualify?
To qualify for Shared Parental Leave (SPL), the employee must share care of the child with either:
- their husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter
- the child’s other parent
- their partner (if they live with the employee and the child)
The employee or their partner must be eligible for maternity pay or leave or Maternity Allowance or adoption pay or leave.
They must also:
- have been employed continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date (or by the date you are matched with the adopted child)
- be employed by the same employer while you take SPL
Their partner’s eligibility
During the 66 weeks before the baby is due their partner must:
- have been working for at least 26 weeks (they don’t need to be in a row)
- have earned at least £30 a week on average in 13 of the 66 weeks
They can be employed, self-employed or an agency worker.
Is Shared Parental Leave paid or unpaid?
Shared Parental Leave may also mean that the employee will qualify for Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if one of the following applies:
- they qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay
- they qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay and have a partner who qualifies for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance or Statutory Adoption Pay
ShPP is paid at the rate of £145.18 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. This is the same as Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) except that during the first 6 weeks SMP is paid at 90% of whatever the employee earns (with no maximum).
How will Shared Parental Leave work?
If eligible and they or their partner end maternity or adoption leave and pay (or Maternity Allowance) early, then your employee can:
- take the rest of the 52 weeks of leave (up to a maximum of 50 weeks) as Shared Parental Leave (SPL)
- take the rest of the 39 weeks of pay or Maternity Allowance (up to a maximum of 37 weeks) as Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)
The mother must take a minimum of 2 weeks’ maternity leave following the birth (4 if she works in a factory).
The employee or their partner can only start Shared Parental Leave (SPL) once the child has been born or adopted. The mother or adopter must have either:
- ended any maternity or adoption leave by returning to work
- given ‘binding notice’ (a decision that can’t normally be changed) to their employer of the date when they plan to end any maternity or adoption leave
- ended maternity pay or Maternity Allowance (if they’re not entitled to maternity leave, eg they’re an agency worker or self-employed)
The mother or adopter must give notice to their employer (at least 8 weeks) to end maternity or adoption pay, or to Jobcentre Plus to end Maternity Allowance.
Your employee can start SPL while their partner is still on maternity or adoption leave as long as they’ve given binding notice to end it.
Blocks of leave
They can book up to 3 separate blocks of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) instead of taking it all in one go, even if they’re not sharing the leave with their partner.
If their partner is eligible for SPL, they can take leave at different times – or both at the same time.
The employee must give you as their employer at least 8 weeks’ notice before they want to begin a block of leave.
If you agree, your employee can split blocks into shorter periods of at least a week. SPL also lets them suggest a flexible pattern of leave to you as their employer. They have the right to take SPL in up to 3 separate blocks but you can agree to more. You can also let them split each block into several shorter periods of work and leave.
Sometimes only one parent in a couple is eligible to get Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). This means that they can’t share the leave between them.
If your employee is eligible then they can use SPL to book their leave in separate blocks even if their partner can’t share it.
What does the employee have to do?
They must give you written notice of their entitlement to SPL and ShPP, including:
- their partner’s name
- start and end dates for maternity or adoption leave and pay
- the total amount of SPL and ShPP available and how much they and their partner intend to take
- confirmation that they are sharing childcare responsibility with their partner
They must also include a signed declaration from their partner stating:
- their name, address and National Insurance number
- that they satisfy the qualifying requirements for SPL and ShPP
- that they agree to your employee taking SPL and ShPP
After receiving this notice, you have 14 days if you want to ask the employee for:
- a copy of the child’s birth certificate
- the name and address of their partner’s employer
Your employee must provide this information within 14 days.
The employee must give you at least 8 weeks’ notice of any leave you wish to take.
If the child is born more than 8 weeks early, this notice period can be shorter.
The employee has the right to book a maximum of 3 separate blocks of leave, although you can agree to more.
Cancelling the decision to end maternity or adoption leave
The mother or adopter may be able to change their decision to end maternity or adoption leave early if both:
- the planned end date hasn’t passed
- they haven’t already returned to work
One of the following must also apply:
- they find out during the 8-week notice period that neither of them is eligible for SPL or ShPP
- the mother or adopter’s partner has died
- the mother tells her employer less than 6 weeks after the birth (and she gave notice before the birth)
Shared parental leave in touch (SPLIT) days
Your employee and their partner can both work up to 20 days during SPL. These are called ‘shared parental leave in touch’ (or SPLIT) days.
These days are in addition to the 10 ‘keeping in touch’ (or KIT) days already available to those on maternity or adoption leave.
Keeping in touch days are optional – both you and your employee must agree to them.
For more information on Shared Parental Leave or any request for leave from an employee, give us a call on 01487 815720 to understand the dos and dont’s.