Shared Parental Leave – do you know what’s coming?

Paternity leave, parental leave and now shared parental leave…it’s no wonder employers can get confused as to when and how to apply all these different forms of leave. So here’s the lowdown on what this new shared parental leave is, when it can be used and what you need to know.
Shared parental leave is going to be available for the parents of children due to be born or adopted on or after 5 April 2015. It’s a new policy that aims to enable eligible parents to choose how to share the care of their child during the first year of birth or adoption.

Broadly speaking the way this will work is that the parent will opt out of her maternity or adoption leave/statutory maternity or adoption pay and opt into the shared parental leave/shared parental pay. This will then allow them to share the remaining time and leave with their partner.
So how does this actually work?
Here’s an example. A mum may have gone on maternity leave 2 weeks before her baby is born. Then 6 weeks after the birth she gives 8 weeks notice to curtail her maternity leave and notice of taking shared parental leave. This means she will have taken 16 weeks of maternity leave, which will leave 36 weeks of shared paternal leave available. She can now share this 36 weeks with her partner, so either the partner could take 20 weeks and she could take the remaining 16 weeks or they could both take 18 weeks together.
Who is eligible?
This is pretty straightforward. You must share care of the child with either your husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter; the child’s other parent; or your partner (if they live with you and the child). You or your partner must be eligible for maternity leave/pay, maternity allowance, or adoption leave/pay You must also have been employed continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the EWC; be employed by the same employer while you take SPL; and have main responsibility for the care of the child (apart from any responsibility of the partner).
How is Shared Parental Leave requested?
Now this is where the rules get a bit confusing…
To request shared parental leave you first need to provide a Leave Curtailment Notice to end your maternity or adoption leave.
You then need to provide Notice of Entitlement and Intention to Take Shared Parental Leave. In essence, three notices are required:-
1.     The mother and the partner must each give their employers written notice of entitlement to SPL and ShPP.
2.      The employee must also provide a signed declaration
3.     The employee’s partner must also provide a signed declaration stating
It is inevitable that sometimes an employee is going to want to change their mind over how they want to split this leave. Now, they can do this but unsurprisingly this is going to mean they need to serve another notice of intention to take shared parental leave confirming estimated dates and what leave is available to them. It’s worth noting here that they can change their minds over this as many times as they want.
When an employee is ready to request the actual date of this leave they need to serve a period of leave notice. Employees need to give their employer’s 8 weeks notice of any leave.
One period of leave notice can include more than one block of leave. An employee has the right to provide a maximum of 3 period of leave notices. An important thing to remember is that if an employee wants to change the dates of a period of leave, they need to serve another notice of leave, which comes out of their maximum 3 period of leave notices.
During shared parental leave, all contractual entitlements continue apart from wages or salary. Pension contributions will continue to be paid when shared parental pay is being paid but not when the employee is on unpaid shared parental leave.
So what do you need to do to get ready for the 5th April?
Ensure you have a shared parental leave policy in place
Communicate with your managers so they are ready for questions coming from employees about this new entitlement
Maternity coaching
Maternity coaching is already an established practice and whilst still predominantly female led, at Amelore we are starting to see men join at least one of the sessions.  Coaching before, during and after maternity and potentially shared parental leave provides valuable space for employees to explore significant changes, increase clarity of thought and help really decide the best way of working for the future.
Need help with this?
Amelore can help design a policy that fits your organisation and provide the tools to upskill your managers so they’re ready for the inevitable questions that will start coming through.