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Shared Paternal Leave and Pay

This employment guide is a summary of your employees’ rights to shared parental leave and pay.

Introduction

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) allows parents to take leave in the first year of their child’s life or in the first year after their child’s placement for adoption.

It provides for eligible parents to take or share up to 50 weeks of SPL and 37 weeks of Shared Paternity Pay (SPP).

A mother or primary adopter can end maternity or adoption leave early and share the untaken leave with the other parent as SPL.

This will enable mothers and primary adopters to return to work before the end of their leave without sacrificing the rest of the leave that would otherwise be available to them.

SPL can either be taken consecutively or concurrently, as long as the total time taken does not exceed what is jointly available to the couple.

Eligibility

To qualify, the mother must be entitled to maternity or adoption leave, or statutory maternity or adoption pay, or maternity allowance. She must share the care of the child with the child’s father or her partner.

In the workplace, there is a two-step process to establish if your employee qualifies for SPL and pay.

Step One:

  • The parent must have worked for you for at least 26 weeks prior to the end of the 15th week before the child is due (the same qualifying time as eligibility for statutory maternity pay).
  • The other parent has to have worked (not necessarily for you) for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to the due date of the child. He or she must have earned in excess of the maternity allowance threshold in at least 13 of the 66 weeks.

Step Two:

  • In order to qualify for SPP the parent who is your employee must have passed step one and, in addition, have earned an average salary of the lower earnings limit or more for eight weeks prior to the 15th week before the child's due date.

Our advisors will be able to tell you what the current earnings thresholds and other pay limits are which apply to the above – just give us a call on 01455 444 222 or contact us.

Parents can opt in to SPL at any time provided there is untaken maternity leave. They can submit up to three separate notifications.

Your employee is required to submit a notice of entitlement to take SPL at least eight weeks prior to the intended SPL start date. SPL can be for a single ‘block’ period of leave or discontinuous blocks of leave over a period. You can refuse to permit discontinuous blocks of leave and request that the employee takes the total leave in a single block.

HR:4UK advises that a meeting is held with the employee who has submitted the notification within one week of its receipt. This enables early discussions regarding possible dates for the leave to be taken and how discontinuous leave can be accommodated.

You should consider any necessary cover requirements in your employee’s absence and/or if any modification to a notification for discontinuous leave is necessary.

Possible outcomes

The outcomes available to you once an application for SPL has been received are:

  • A continuous leave notification must be accepted.
  • You can ask the employee to modify the continuous leave to suit business needs although the employee is not obliged to do so.
  • Discontinuous leave notification can be refused and a request made to the employee to take the leave in a single block.

Once a notification has been submitted, the employee has up to 15 days to withdraw the notification (he or she may wish to do this if a notification for discontinuous leave has been refused). If the application is not withdrawn he or she must then take the total amount of leave in one continuous block, starting no longer than 19 days after the notification is received. It is therefore particularly important that any request for discontinuous leave is discussed with the employee in a timely manner.

Please remember that you cannot refuse a notification requesting continuous leave.

Key points:

You should remember that:

  • Employed mothers will continue to be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave and 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance.
  • An eligible mother can end her maternity leave early and, with her partner or the child's father, will be able to opt for SPL instead of maternity leave. If they both meet the qualifying requirements they will need to decide how they divide their total SPL and SPP entitlement between them.
  • Paid paternity leave of two weeks will continue to be available to fathers and to the partner of a mother or adopter.
  • Adopters will have the same rights as other parents to SPL and pay.
  • Intended ‘parents in surrogacy’ who meet certain criteria will be eligible for statutory adoption leave and pay, SPP and SPL.

Getting it right

The rules surrounding Shared Parental Leave and Shared Parental Pay are extremely complex. The costs of failing to meet all the legal requirements can be high – and so can the potential damage to the reputation of your business.

HR:4UK can help you by providing advice and support to ensure that you meet your legal obligations.

For further help and advice, speak to one of our advisors by calling 01455 444222 or complete our online enquiry click here and an advisor will contact you shortly.