Shared Parental Leave
In 2014 a set of regulations came into force regarding the rights of parents to share parental leave. This was done in order to allow working parents to share responsibility of looking after a new-born or adopted child with their partner. In essence the regulations entitle parents to take shared parental leave and statutory shared parental pay, subject to pre-qualification conditions.
How’s that again?
Shared Parental Leave comes about when an eligible mother or adopter is entitled to maternity leave and maternity pay, and ends their own leave early. The result is that there are is a pool of ‘untaken’ weeks of maternity leave or maternity pay. Any untaken leave or statutory pay can be taken by their partner if the partner is eligible.
Mothers of new-borns must take a minimum of 2 weeks’ maternity leave after the birth (4 weeks if they work in a factory).
Break It Down
An employed parent can take up to 52 weeks of leave (maternity/aptoption/shared parental). Statutory maternity/adoption pay can be paid for up to 39 weeks and is broken down like this:
- 90% of average weekly earnings for the first six weeks
- The lower of 90% of average weekly earnings or £145.18/week for the remaining 33 weeks. (April 2018)
- The above amounts are subject to the usual statutory deductions such as National Insurance & income tax
To qualify for shared parental leave, at least one parent who shares responsibility for the child (e.g. wife, husband or civil partner if they live with them) must have been in continuous employment for 6 months by the end of the 15th week prior do the due date (or adoption date). They must still be employed during the shared parental leave, they must give employers at least 8 weeks’ notice, and they must provide a declaration that their partner meets eligibility requirements regarding income and employment.
One block at a time
Employees have the right to take the leave in up to 3 separate blocks instead of one long period of leave. They can further request to split those 3 blocks up into smaller blocks, although the request for smaller blocks can be refused.
Parents can return to work in between taking periods of parental leave, and they can also both take parental leave at the same time. However, there is a fixed ‘pool’ of leave & allowance.
Why don’t more men take Shared Parental Leave?
The uptake of shared parental leave isn’t as high as you might think, with perhaps only 2% of couples going down the route of shared leave. The reasons behind this reflect the recent headlines around the gender pay gap – as men are more likely to earn a higher salary, it’s just too much of a financial sacrifice for the higher earner to take much time off work. The government is planning campaigns to promote the awareness of shared parental leave, but unless there are incentives in place to encourage it, it’s unlikely that more men will ‘take advantage’ of it.
It’s all a bit confusing
With separate rules for directors, agency workers and agricultural workers, there are different rules for different employees.
And that’s why we’re here to help. Contact us if you need guidance regarding your rights or obligations surrounding shared parental leave.