Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave

The draft Regulations for shared parental leave have been published and while there are no real changes from the expected legislation, there are some issues that may cause complications for employers.

From an employee’s point of view the Regulations offer more options for new parents and adoptive parents with children due to arrive on or after 05 April 2015. Therefore these Regulations affect anyone who has just become pregnant.

The Regulations do not replace normal maternity or paternity leave, but instead are an alternative which provides a more flexible method of taking leave.

As always the new mother must take 2 weeks of compulsory leave, but after that they can opt to switch to shared parental leave for up to 50 weeks.

There are strict timing rules on applying for shared parental leave, changing shared parental leave and ending shared parental leave, so some serious planning is needed in order to maximise any advantages. Remember the sharing of leave will, more often than not, affect 2 different employers. As an example of the complexity of the legislation, the mother’s request for shared parental leave must start 8 weeks after the notice has been given and must be given at least 1 week before the end of the statutory maternity leave period. Still with me?

It remains to be seen how positively employers will react to the extra administration involved in shared parental leave, especially as the parents can change their mind up to 3 times during the year and they can take blocks of leave as small as a single week.

In reality, unless there is a good contractual maternity policy in place, it is unlikely that many mothers will want to take the leave prior to using their 6 weeks of 90% statutory maternity pay as switching to the shared parental leave would cancel that element of maternity pay.

There is no doubt that the new regulations will take time to bed in and for employees and employers to fully understand them. If you have any queries about the leave or if your employer is not playing fairly, please call our employment specialists on: 0845 070 0505 (Please note: Calls to this number will cost approximately 4p per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge).

Adrian Barnes, Alpha Law