What is Shared Parental Leave and Pay?
The Government is changing the statutory pay and leave entitlements for employed parents. For babies due or adopted children matched or placed on or after 5 April 2015 there will be a new entitlement of shared parental pay and leave (ShPP/SPL). This replaces the additional statutory paternity pay and leave (ASPP/APL). Parents of babies due or adopted children matched or placed on or before 4 April 2015 will continue to be eligible for ASPP and APL.
ShPP/SPL gives families greater choice over their childcare arrangements in the first year. Working mothers will have the option to end their maternity pay and leave early and to share any untaken leave and pay with their partner. An adopter will also be able to end their adoption leave and pay early to opt in to ShPP and SPL.
The government’s intention is to enable partners to take a greater role in caring for a child and to help both parents balance childcare responsibilities with staying in work. It also benefits businesses, as companies can recruit with the confidence that their employees will be less likely to drop out of the workforce when they have children and enables them to keep their best talent.
The current entitlement of 52 weeks statutory maternity or adoption leave with 39 weeks being paid leave and two weeks of statutory paternity leave and pay is all unchanged but the first 6 weeks of statutory adoption pay will increase to 90% of average weekly earnings to bring it in line with Statutory Maternity Pay.
How does it Work?
From the 5 April 2015 any parents of a baby due or of an adoptive child placed may be eligible for SPL and ShPP. Under SPL and ShPP mothers or adopters will be able to end their maternity or adoption leave and pay early but not prior to 2 weeks after the birth or placement. And share their pay and leave with their partner. Shared parental leave and pay can be stopped and started and parents can be off at the same time if they choose to be.
Leave can be taken in phases for example the mother or adopter can take 15 weeks leave and then the father or other adopter can take 15 weeks leave and then the mother or adopter can take another 20 weeks leave. It may mean that statutory parental pay is paid over one or two discontinuous periods. Parents must notify their employers of their plans for shared parental leave 8 weeks before they become eligible for it and all leave must be taken between birth or placement and the child’s first birthday.
What do employers need to do?
The first notifications of intention to take SPL are expected to arrive with employers from February 2015. The government will provide employers with an example form however employers may wish to create their own requirements for how their employees notify them.
It is anticipated that employers will need to update payroll systems to accommodate providing ShPP to employees taking SPL and to enable payments to be paid discontinuously where necessary.
There will be online tools to check eligibility and there will be detailed guidance on the rules for ShPP and SPL on the government website. The key part of SPL is communication between the employer and employee to agree the phasing of SPL and the return to work. ACAS will also be publishing information to support the process.
Parents of babies due on or after 5 April 2015 will be eligible for shared parental leave and pay however some babies will arrive early. As long as the due date is on or after the 5 April 2015 eligible parents of babies due earlier will still be eligible for shared parental leave and pay.
Legislation in Northern Ireland to allow comparable rights for working parents is still being considered by the Northern Ireland Assembly. Employees will not be able to access ShPP/L for early births and will continue to be able to apply for additional statutory paternity pay and leave.
For further information see the employer guide on the GOV.UK website.