Under SPL, mothers can commit to ending their maternity leave and pay at a certain date, and their partner can take up the remainder. Alternatively, parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave or in some circumstances, up to 6 months off holding down the fort together. Most parents out there will agree, the first year of a child’s life is both magical and exhausting, being able to share it is likely to ease the stresses and strains as well as creating a valuable bonding experience for the new family.
The basic principles of shared parental leave
Employed eligible mothers are entitled to 52 weeks of Maternity Leave and 39 weeks of Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance.
A mother can choose to end her Maternity Leave early and, with her partner or the child’s father, opt for Shared Parental Leave instead of Maternity Leave.
If they both meet the qualifying requirements, the parents need to decide how they want to divide their Shared Parental Leave and Pay entitlement. One parent can go back to work or they can both be on leave at the same time but the maximum number of weeks of leave available stays the same.
Paid Paternity Leave of a maximum of two weeks continues to be available to fathers and a mother’s or adopter’s partner.
Adopters have the same rights as other parents to Shared Parental Leave and Pay.
Do part-time staff receive less pay than full-timers?
No, if you they’re eligible for Statutory Shared Parental Pay, they will receive the same rate of pay regardless of the hours they work. But if they earn less than the lower earnings limit (£116 a week for 2018/2019) they won’t qualify for pay, (they may qualify for benefits instead).
Can adopters and the intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement take Shared Parental Leave and Pay?
Yes, providing that one of the prospective parents qualifies for Adoption Leave and/or Pay and is willing to give up some of their leave and/or pay to ‘create’ Shared Parental Leave and Pay.
How to manage shared parental leave
If and when your employee asks for more details on SPL and whether they are eligible, discuss notification periods and partner eligibility early on and make plans around suitable cover.
Consider the impact the leave will have on the business short term, sspecially if you are the employer of the non-pregnant partner. Review workloads, work patterns and available cover and have a chat with the parent to ensure they give you sufficient notice for you to plan ahead.
The outcome, once your employee has clearly communicated their Shared Parental Leave plans made the leave booking and meets eligibility, you will need to confirm it all in writing and plan for their leave.
Make sure you double check the paperwork! It’s really important to get the correct declarations from the mother or primary adopter when they are ending their Maternity/Adoption Leave, and we recommend that you double check this with their employer to reduce the risk of a couple claiming double payments or longer leave than they’re entitled to.
Please note: There are only very specific circumstances in which you can refuse this type of time off, and to do so unreasonably is likely to result in a discrimination claim.
For further advice on maternity leave click here >>
Want to read about the low take up of the SPL scheme, click here >>
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