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Shared Parental Leave is on its way – Part 1


Shared Parental Leave Jacqui Mann

Shared Parental Leave is on its way – Part 1


Shared parental leave is expected to apply to parents of children due on or after 5 April 2015. It’s a new way for parents to share statutory leave and pay on the birth of a child. It will replace the current additional paternity leave but will not replace the current maternity leave and pay. Similar rights will also apply to adoptions and intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement.

The new right allows

  • The mother to choose to bring her maternity leave to an end any time after the two week compulsory maternity leave period.
  • The parents can choose how to split the remaining weeks of leave between them.
  • Shared parental leave can be taken by each parent separately or at the same time.

The Regulations set out (currently in draft):

  • The right to take shared parental leave once maternity leave has been brought to an end.
  • The period available for shared parental leave and how this can be taken.
  • The eligibility criteria for taking the leave.
  • Provisions on how notifications and requests should be made.
  • Provisions on terms and conditions during leave, the right to return to work and protections from detriment or dismissal for taking the leave.
  • An increase to ‘Keeping in touch’ days.

Eligibility criteria

If a woman decides not to take her full maternity leave entitlement, she and the father will be able to opt in to shared parental leave. Both parents must meet a set of eligibility criteria, which are:

  • They must have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.
  • They must remain continuously employed until the week before any period of shared parental leave starts.
  • They already have or expect to have main responsibility for caring for the child.
  • The mother is entitled to statutory maternity leave.
  • The mother has curtailed her entitlement to maternity leave or has returned to work.
  • They have provided their employers with notice of entitlement and intention to take shared parental leave.
  • They have provided any evidence requested by their employer within 14 days of the request.
  • They have given the employer a period of leave notice.

Amount of shared parental leave available

The maximum amount of leave that can be shared between the parents is 50 weeks. The leave can be taken during the 12 months following the birth of the child, but cannot begin earlier than two weeks following the child’s birth.

The leave can be taken separately or at the same time, subject to the following requirements:

  • The minimum period of leave must be one week,
  • The leave must be taken in multiples of complete weeks, and
  • The leave may be taken as one continuous period or discontinuous periods.

Watch out for Part 2 next month.


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