Amanda Fielding is a HR Consultant at A J HR Solutions
supporting small to medium sized business with their HR requirements in the Berkshire and surrounding areas
Quite a while ago you may remember seeing in the news that the government were talking about introducing shared parental leave, these regulations are currently before parliament and are due to come into force on 1 December 2014. The option to use the new shared parental leave rights will apply for parents who meet the eligibility criteria, where a baby is due to be born on or after 5 April 2015.
Employers could start to receive notice of eligibility and the intention to take shared parental leave from qualifying employees from January 2015. Therefore it is important for employers to be aware of these changes and to give some thought to changing their maternity policy, to accommodate any notifications they may receive.
Eligibility for Share Parental Leave
Shared parental leave is designed to give parents more flexibility in how they share the care of their child in the first year following the birth. Parents will be able to share a pot of leave, and can decide to be off work at the same time and/or taking it in turns to have periods of leave to look after the child.
To qualify for shared parental leave and pay a mother must be entitled to maternity leave, or statutory maternity, or maternity allowance and must share the main responsibility for caring for the child with the child’s father or her partner. In addition, they will be required to follow a two-step process to establish eligibility.
Step 1 – Continuity Test
A parent seeking to take shared parental leave must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15 week before the week in which the child is due and is still employed in the first week that shared parental leave is to be taken.
The other parent must have worked for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to the due date and have earned above the maternity allowance threshold of £30 a week in 13 of the 66 weeks.
Step 2 – Individual Eligibility for Pay
To qualify for shared parental pay the parent must, as well as passing the continuity test also have earned an average salary of the lower earnings limit or more (currently £111) for the 8 weeks prior to the 15th week before the week in which the child is due.
It will be for the mother to continue on maternity leave or opt to take shared parental leave. Shared parental leave may be taken at any time within the period which begins on the date the child is born and ends 52 weeks later. Leave must be taken in complete weeks and may be taken either in a continuous period which an employer cannot refuse or in a discontinuous period, which an employer can refuse.
An employed mother will continue to have the right to take up to 52 weeks statutory maternity leave and not opt for shared parental leave. A father will still have the right to paternity leave. Adoptive parents have the same rights as other parents to shared parental leave and pay.
Any parental leave that is applied for must be agreed at least 8 weeks before the date that the leave is due to start.
This is an overview of the new rights. If you would like support in putting a maternity policy together, or to update your current policy please give Amanda a call on 0118 324 0479 / 07541 575642 or email firstname.lastname@example.org