shared parental leave advice from ShenSmith Barristers

Shared Parental Leave

 

What is shared parental leave?

I’ve been asking a lot of questions about shared parental leave, and that’s a right is coming as of 5th April 2015.

So a lot of employers and employees said “ What is this all about?”

Well, basically, it’s a right that applies to all parents of children, in the sense of children who are born or adopted. And the issue around it, is what happens after the child is either being born or adopted. Usually all of the rights fall to the mother in terms of leave. But what is happening now is that where a mother would have normally had two weeks compulsory leave after the birth of a child, followed by up to 50 weeks of leave to be able to look after that child. That leave is [now] able to be shared by the partner; and that would be the father or a female partner. So what would happen is, where a mother is giving birth to a child she has to take compulsory leave of 2 weeks.

And After that, there is the opportunity for the partner to be able to share those 50 weeks. Now, that can be done in blocks of 3, it can be shared in other ways. It’s all about working it out with your employer. And out of those 50 weeks, 37 of those weeks are paid. And the way in which they are paid, is either statutory pay, which is set at certain level and that is revised every April; or 90% of the full salary, whichever is the lower. Now there are variations of to this in the sense that companies can decide to be much more generous. That applies whether you are an employee trying to look at the staff handbook to decide whether you are entitled to these rights and what it would be; or whether you are the employer, and you need to be redrafting your policies. So that is the way that basically works.

What is the notice period for parental leave?

Now, in terms of giving notice to your employer and qualifying for this, there are very specific rules that are in place, and they can be quite complex.

One of the parents has to work for the employer for a period of 26 weeks, by the end of the 15th week, before the birth of the baby, or the adoption of the baby. So that’s the criteria for one of the parents or carers.

What is the notice period for the second parent for parental leave?

The criteria for the second parent or carer is that they have to work for 26 weeks, in the period 66 weeks, before the birth or adoption of the child. And it has to be the case that they have earned £30, (a minimum of £30), in 13 weeks during that period.

So it is quite complicated. And it’s something that I would suggest that you really look up and sit down with the calculator and a calendar, and figure it out. I certainly recently did that with the employee of one of my clients. Just really sat down with them, with the calculator and went through all of their rights and it made much clearer, rather than having in a handbook, expecting the employee to read about it, it just makes it simpler if you both go through it and everybody knows where they stand.

Does shared parental leave apply to foster parents?

Shared parental leave does not apply to foster parents. Now forester parents is somewhat of an old fashion term. What I mean by that now is that these are the carers of look after children , so it doesn’t apply to you if you are one of those.

When does shared parental leave have to be taken?

The other thing you need to bear in mind is that shared parental leave must be taken between the birth or adoption of a child, and their first birthday ,or a year after the adoption.

So that’s the way that shared parental leave works. It’s something that’s new. I would suggest that it’s something you certainly amend within your staff handbook, and get advice on, because it can be quite technical. And the issue really that is arising, that I am seeing much more of, is that fathers in particular, feel quite bad about asking for the shared parental leave, even though they are entitled still to the 2 weeks of the parental leave that they are qualify for upon on the birth or adoption of a child, they are still entitled to that. It’s more the case that a father is finding very difficult then to ask for parental shared leave. So this might be something worth issuing as party of your staff newsletter or something along those lines, so you’re able to raise it as a subject, so that people are aware they are able to do it, but also so that you keep up to date with the legislation.

Learn how shared parental leave can apply to you, employers and employees.