Shared Parental Leave becomes law from today
From 1st December 2014, you have been entitled to apply for Shared Parental Leave and Statutory Shared Parental Pay if your baby is due on or after 5 April 2015 or your child is placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015.
How does it work?
The new rules mean that couples with babies due, or children matched or placed for adoption, after 5 April 2015 will be able to share leave- essentially by allowing eligible women to curtail their right to maternity leave to enable their partner to take the balance.
After an initial 2 weeks maternity leave (4 weeks for factory workers) which the mother must take following the birth, parents can share up to 50 weeks’ leave and 37 weeks’ between them.
Whilst parents can take it in turns when sharing the leave, they are also able to take time off at the same time if they prefer, so that they are essentially overlapping part of their entitlement. Parents can break up the leave in a combination that suits them, as the leave does not have to be taken in one continuous block; you can return to work and then take a further period of shared parental leave at a later stage.
You must give 8 weeks notice before leave can be taken, and the pattern of that leave needs to be agreed between you and your employer. Your can choose to take shared parental leave at any time before the child’s first birthday or before the first anniversary of the adoption placement.
What will you be paid?
The existing right to statutory maternity pay will be transferred under the shared parental leave arrangements, depending on how much time fathers choose to take off. Mothers currently receive 90 per cent of their normal salary for the first six weeks and then a statutory £138 a week for the next 33 weeks.
Your eligibility as a mother
To qualify for Shared Parental Leave you must share care of the child with either:
- your husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter
- the child’s other parent
- your partner (if they live with you and the child)
You or your partner must also be eligible for maternity pay or leave, maternity allowance, or adoption pay or leave.
You 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 your adopted child)
- had the main responsibility for the care of the child at the date of the birth (apart from the responsibility of your partner or the child’s father);
- be employed by the same employer while you take Shared Parental Leave.
- be entitled to statutory maternity leave in respect of the child;
- have curtailed her statutory maternity leave by giving the relevant notice, or returned to work before the end of the maternity leave period; and
- have complied with the relevant notice and evidence requirements.
Your partner’s eligibility
Your partner must:
- have been working for at least 26 weeks of the 66 weeks before the expected week of childbirth (they don’t need to be in a row);
- have earned at least £30 a week on average in 13 of the 66 weeks
- have had the main responsibility for the child at the date of the birth (apart from the responsibility of the mother).
Your partner can be employed, self-employed or an agency worker.
Protection from unfair dismissal.
An employee has the right to return to the same job after taking a period of shared parental leave if the period of leave, when added to any period of statutory maternity, paternity or adoption leave taken by the employee in relation to the same child, is 26 weeks or less.
If you have taken over 26 weeks, if returning to the same job is not reasonable practicable, you have the right to return to a similar suitable job.
From today, parents are also given protection against being subjected to a detriment or unfairly dismissed in connection with taking shared parental leave.
In a redundancy situation, those returning from shared parental leave will be given preferential treatment when it comes to any suitable alternative vacancies. Where a suitable vacancy exists and the employer fails to offer it, an employee’s dismissal will be automatically unfair. However, where the employee rejects the alternative employment, or no suitable vacancy exists, the employer will be entitled to dismiss by reason of redundancy.