New rights came into force in April allowing parents to share leave following the arrival of a new son or daughter. For mums and dads-to-be this is a welcome change in legislation which represents a step in the right direction for parents and is reflective of modern lifestyles. Subsequently, employers across the country have been working to implement a new set of procedures which accommodate this groundbreaking change in legislation. It is now fundamental for any employer or parent to make themselves aware of these changes and how they could be affected.
How does it work?
Shared parental leave will apply to all parents who are currently in work, this includes cohabitating couples, same-sex couples and couples bringing up a child together (regardless of whether the baby is from a previous relationship or not). Previously, only the mother has been able to take the majority of paid time out of work, however, changes now mean parents can share leave together in a flexible fashion.
The legislation came into force on April 5 this year and staff will only be eligible for leave if their baby was due by or matched/placed for adoption by this date. Additionally, any leave must be taken between the child’s date of birth and first birthday.
Taking into account the above criteria eligible parents are entitled to share up to 50 weeks of leave (37 of which are paid). This starts after an initial two-week leave period, which is compulsory for any mother to take following the birth or arrival of a new born. Statutory shared parental pay is set at £139.58 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks of leave and the lower amount thereafter.
One of the fundamental benefits of utilising shared parental leave is the level of flexibility it can offer both parents. If required, both parents can take leave simultaneously in one block for the full 25 weeks each, alternatively they may decide to divide leave into smaller blocks incorporating periods of work in between. Ultimately, it depends on how they wish to use their leave, although they should give their respective employer 8 weeks’ notice before any leave date.