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New changes in the Law which apply to Shared Parental Leave

From 5th April 2015, parents of children born or placed for adoption will be able to take advantage of Shared Parental Leave. Meaning that couples can share the maternity/adoption leave entitlement. 

As the biggest change to parental leave legislation in a generation, it is crucial that both SME’s and those who qualify for this leave understand where they stand and what they are entitled to legally.

Our colleague from QualitySolicitors Bradbury, Roberts & Raby, Kate Knapton has spoken with us in order to show us some top tips to both SME owners and employees, outlining the best action to take if you are in any way unsure as to how the new legislation will affect their personal circumstances. 

If you are an employer:

Take advice – as a very recent development to the legislation on parental law, it is perfectly understandable that you might be unsure of your legal obligations as an employer. The new legislation could revolutionalise the way in which millions of families juggle their work/life balance. As such, it is unclear exactly how those who quality for Shared Parental Leave will react to the new opportunities that the legislation change presents. If you are in any way unsure of how to respond to a particular request, seek advice from HR or employment advisors before responding to any SPL request to avoid any unnecessary issues that may emerge from a lack of preparation. 

Do your due diligence – In today’s workplace, the onus falls on the employer to be aware of all of the responsibilities when it comes to implementing the changes to parental leave. As well as taking advice, it is important to familiarize yourself with what your employees are entitled to legally, so that you can have a fair and frank discussion with staff members when they come to you to raise the idea. It is hoped that shared parental leave will allow families flexibility when it comes to childcare.  Treat all requests in the same way you would treat any maternity/adoption requests. 

Document every step of the process – ensure that every meeting on the subject is logged and documented. It is crucial that you adhere to your organisation’s own HR policies and procedures when processing these claims. As an emerging area of employment law, how you deal with your first shared parental leave request will set the precedent to other employees considering similar moves, so do not underestimate the importance of this first impression on your wider workforce.  

Make preparations – the new developments may see you having to do without some of your best staff for longer than ever before. In your business and contingency planning, it is advisable to plan for the eventuality that any parent-to-be could be away from the business for up to a calendar year. 

If you are an employee:

Assess your personal circumstances  - it is crucial that you consider the realities of taking extended shared parental leave. Whilst the opportunity of taking extended paternity leave is an attractive one, you need to assess the likely constraints that months receiving statutory pay would have on your current living circumstances. You may decide that this bonding time is worth taking a short-term financial hit for, but by being aware of exactly what you are entitled to and how far it can stretch, you and your partner can better make the right joint decision for your new family. 

Be clear what is now law and what is being proposed 
Ahead of the General Election political parties will make various manifesto pledges.  Shared Parental Leave is already a reality.  Make yourself aware of what this means for you as an employee or an employer. 


Go to our Family law page here to know more about it

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