Adding a new dimension of flexibility to the work environment, shared parental leave (SPL) was introduced to allow parents to share their parental responsibilities in a way convenient for them during the first year of their child’s life.
A mother can share her leave with one of the following: the baby’s father, her husband, her civil partner or her partner as long as they satisfy the eligibility requirements. A couple who are sharing parental leave take leave at the same time as each other or at different times.
Who is eligible?
In order to take shared parental leave the mother must be eligible for maternity leave. A vital requirement to qualify for SPL is the curtailment of maternity leave.
If the mother and her “partner” (the baby’s father, her husband, civil partner or partner) wish to take SPL, then she must bring her maternity leave to an end (after the two weeks of compulsory leave) and the leave she has left over can be split between her and her partner. This is subject to complying with the notice requirements.
The mother must give her employer at least 8 weeks’ written notice that she wishes to end her maternity leave and pay. After this notice is served, the partner can notify their employer of their intention to take SPL, but both parents must notify their employers at least 8 weeks before the start date of any leave. Alternatively, if the mother returns to work, that will curtail her maternity entitlements, too.
There are individual eligibility requirements for both people taking SPL. The mother must:
- Have a due date on or after 5th April 2015
- Have 26 weeks’ service at the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC)
- Share the primary responsibility for the child with her partner at the time of the birth; have properly notified you of their entitlement and have provided the necessary declarations and evidence.
Her partner must:
- In the 66 weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth, have worked for at least 26 weeks and have earned on average at least £30 a week in any 13 weeks. This means, therefore, that self-employed people and those who have recently become unemployed can enable their partner to take SPL.
Certain notification requirements must also be met. If you employ the mother, she must inform you of her curtailment date. Both individuals must inform their respective employers, or just you if you employ both individuals that they wish to opt into SPL and also a rough guide as to how they intend to spread their entitlement to leave.
You can ask your employee to provide details of their partner’s employer to cross reference entitlement and they must provide you with the details, however, there is no requirement for the other employer to share the information. The employee must then give you another notice to book a period of leave, giving you at least 8 weeks’ notice.
Failure to follow any of the notification procedures can delay or even negate the employee’s entitlement to shared parental leave.