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Shared Parental Leave in 2015

Shared Parental Leave in 2015

Under new laws new parents will be able to share their parental leave. Working mothers will continue to have Maternity Leave of 52 weeks and 39 weeks of statutory Maternity Pay but if they want to, they can end their leave early and give the remaining weeks to the father / partner.

A fortnight of Paid Paternity Leave will remain but Additional Paternity Leave will be replaced with this new Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and adopters will have the same rights as other parents.

Paternity leave is 1 or 2 weeks and must be taken all together within 56 days of the birth. Where a child is born early, leave can be taken any time between the actual birth and 56 days after the expected date of birth.

SPL enables mothers to return to work temporarily and then go back on leave if they wish. Importantly, it also gives sharing parents the choice between taking the time off simultaneously (26 weeks together), or taking a break from work during different periods – adding up to a total of 52 weeks.

The changes will apply to parents of children born or officially adopted from the 5th April onwards.

For a parent to be eligible to take Shared Parental Leave they need to be an employee and pass:

  • Continuity of Employment Test: worked for same employer for 26 weeks or more by the end of the 15th week before the child’s due date + still employed the first week that SPL is taken.
  • The other parent must meet the Employment and Earnings Test: worked for at least 26 weeks of the 66 weeks before the due date.

The mother or adopter decides whether or not to use SPL and:

  • It can be taken any time from the date of the birth and end 52 weeks after this
  • It must be taken in complete weeks
  • If a continuous period of leave is requested the employer cannot refuse
  • If an on and off period is requested the employer can refuse

Employed mothers will retain the right to take up to 52 weeks statutory maternity leave. Father / partners have the right to unpaid time off to attend two ante-natal appointments.

If an employee hopes to take SPL they should inform their employer ASAP. The employer might decide to:

  • Confirm continuous / discontinuous leave request
  • Agree a modification to a leave request (employee should not be put under pressure to modify it)
  • Refuse a discontinuous leave notification

It is not good practice, but an employer can make no response to the request.

If you are an employee who is considering taking Shared Parental Leave or an employer who wants more detailed information about your options regarding this issue, get in touch with our solicitors at Lanshaws. We provide impartial advice with the intention of helping you to understand the law and the options available to you to help you reach a conclusion.