What is Shared Parental Leave?

3 years ago

Neilson Watts (Product Manager, Sage One Payroll)By Neilson Watts (Product Manager, Sage One Payroll)

So as we enter a new calendar year of 2015 so comes with it further legislative change in the form of Shared Parental Leave (incorporating Shared Parental Pay) which small and micro businesses may find more difficult to accommodate.

So what is Shared Parental Leave?

Shared Parental Leave entitles expectant parents, or parents adopting a child on or after the 5th April 2015 to share their caring responsibilities depending on their preferences and circumstances.

Shared Parental Leave entitles each parent to be able to share and submit up to three notices of leave during the child’s first year (from their birth until their 1st birthday or within 1 year of adoption).

Shared Parental leave can:

* Start on any day of the week
* Must be taken in complete weeks
* Can be taken using three separate blocks

How does an employee qualify?

To qualify for Shared Parental Leave the ‘mother’ must have a partner, be entitled to maternity/adoption leave and given notice to the employer of their intent to reduce their maternity/adoption leave.

* A parent wanting to take Shared Parental Leave must have worked for you for 26 continuous weeks prior to 15th week before the due date or date they are matched with their adopted child. This is known as the ‘Continuous Employment Test’
* Their partner in the 66 weeks leading up to baby’s expectant date or adoptive matching date, has worked for at least 26 weeks and earned an average of at least £30 a week in 13 of those 26 weeks. This is known as ‘Employment and Earnings Test’
* The mother can only share the leave with one person, who either needs to be the child’s father, mother’s husband or civil partner, or a partner living in an enduring relationship.

How much notice does the employee need to give the employer?

A birth mother or adopter must take at least 2 weeks maternity/adoption leave (four weeks if they work in a factory) before they are entitled to opt in to Shared Parental Leave.  They employee must give the employer 8 weeks’ notice of their intention of ending maternity/adoption leave and intent of opting into Shared Parental Leave.  This 8 week notice period also applies to each notice of leave.

What is their leave entitlement under Shared Parental Leave?

Up to a maximum of 50 weeks of Shared Parental Leave can be shared between the parents (remember the mother must have already taken a minimum of 2 weeks maternity/adoption leave).

Are they entitled to Shared Parental Pay?

A mother who is entitled to receive up to 39 weeks of statutory maternity/adoption pay, who then gives notice to reduce their entitlement and opts into Shared Parental Leave, can if they qualify take the remaining weeks as Shared Parental Pay.

If both parents qualify for Shared Parental Pay, they must decide who will receive it, or how it will be divided and inform each employer of their entitlement.

What should you do as an Employer?

Shared Parental Leave is a legal entitlement. Qualifying employees have the right to choose to take the leave, to determine when they take it and not to suffer any detriment for using or seeking to use it.

Tip 1: Understand what Shared Parental Leave could mean to your business and employees
Tip 2: Be open to informing, educating and supporting any employee who may be entitled
Tip3: Plan ahead for any contingencies your business may need to cover when your employee takes their leave

Where can I find more information?

As an employer you can find out more information about Shared Parental Leave at www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay-employer-guide

A more detailed set of guidance for employers and employees can be found in the ACAS booklet Shared Parental Leave: a good practice guide for employers and employees

Don’t worry though, Sage One Payroll will help you keep track of shared parental pay in readiness for the new 2015/16 tax year. If you’re not already a customer, sign up for a free 30 day trial here.