A recent survey by the law firm, Linklaters, indicates that take up for the new Shared Parental Leave (SPL) scheme, which comes into force on 1 December 2014, may be higher than anticipated.
Nearly two thirds of men and women surveyed said they would be interested in SPL, considerably more than the Government’s estimate, which was only 2-5%.
The new scheme also heralds changes to additional paternity leave and pay and adoption leave and pay.
SPL can be created where an eligible mother or adopter brings their maternity or adoption leave to an end early. The balance of untaken maternity or adoption leave can be taken as SPL if the mother or adopter or their partner is eligible for this and up to a maximum of 50 weeks may be taken as SPL. Statutory shared parental pay will also be introduced from next week.
The scheme is aimed at enabling working parents to share leave and to take time off in a more flexible way, for example, taking more time off together during the year after the birth or adoption.
A feature of SPL is that it may either be taken in a continuous block or in smaller blocks of leave (of a minimum of one week at a time) interspersed with time at work. This is in contrast to maternity leave which has to be taken in a single continuous block. This has the potential to become an administrative burden. However, there is no obligation to agree lots of separate periods of leave. The maximum number of separate blocks of leave that an employee can take will be three unless you agree to more. Early indications are that employees are likely to prefer to take single, longer periods of SPL rather than chopping and changing time spent away from work. Around a third of those surveyed said that they would prefer to take SPL at the same time as the mother.
Your employee is required to inform you that he or she qualifies for SPL and pay if he or she intends to take it. The employee will notify you at least 8 weeks before taking any SPL and/or pay of their entitlement to this.
The maximum number of weeks of SPL and pay that may be available to parents jointly is 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay.
It is important to note that only employees are entitled to SPL and that there are certain eligibility requirements that must be met.
Whilst almost two thirds of men and women surveyed were interested in SPL, some hesitation was expressed by men. Half of the men surveyed said that they would forego SPL if other male colleagues declined to take it.
For more information and guidance on SPL and pay or to discuss updating your policies and procedures to include a Shared Parental Leave and Pay Policy please contact us on 0845 070 0505 (Please note: Calls to this number will cost approximately 4p per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge) (Please note: Calls to this number will cost approximately 4p per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge).