Shared Parental Leave – What is it all about?
The Government has, at long last, issued its response to a consultation on the administration of shared parental leave and pay. It is clear from the consultation that there will potentially be an increased administrative burden on employers but this may be tempered by the earlier return to work of some staff. For the scheme to work effectively there will be a need for employees to discuss their needs with their employers.
Under the controversial plans for shared parental leave, mothers would have the option of sharing 50 of their 52 weeks’ maternity leave and 37 of their 39 weeks’ statutory pay with their partner by opting into the shared parental leave system. If a woman does not opt for shared parental leave, she would remain entitled to maternity leave and pay.
In order to take advantage of shared parental leave, a mother would have to give eight weeks’ notice to bring her maternity leave to an end and to take shared leave. This would include a two week discussion period. Although the notice would be binding, mothers who opt into the shared parental leave system before the birth of their child would be able to revoke that election up to six weeks following birth.
If the proposals are implemented as they currently stand, employees who notify their employer of their intention to take shared parental leave, must at the same time give a non-binding indication of their expected pattern of leave. This will ensure that employees consider their leave plans from the outset and give employers an early indication of the leave they intend to take. This should help the employer to manage cover for when the leave is taken.
Employees will still need to give eight weeks’ formal notice of any leave they wish to take, but this will be capped at a maximum of three notifications (which will include the original notification and any changes to previous notifications), unless the employer agrees otherwise.
This is a change from what was originally proposed. However, employers and employees will still be able to make mutually agreed changes which will not count towards the cap.
The framework for shared parental leave is currently set out in the Children and Families Bill which is currently going through Parliament. The Government hopes to implement the new system in 2015 and will publish further Regulations before the Bill receives Royal Assent.
Details of how the system will work in practice have yet to be announced. In that respect there may yet be some changes. It is not clear at present how employers will get information from staff as to the shared leave entitlement. It is likely that employers will need to communicate with each other to determine joint entitlements and that may give rise to data protection issues.
This Briefing has been produced for information purposes only and is based on the law and other information available at the time of writing. We cannot be held responsible for any losses incurred through acting or failing to act on the basis of anything contained in this Briefing.
If you require advice on any of the matters referred to, please contact us so that we can advise you, taking account of your own particular circumstances and requirements.