Shared Parental Leave arrives

15 Apr 2015

The new era of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) commenced this month. The idea is simple enough – following the birth or adoption of a child working parents are now able to share up to 50 weeks leave and 37 weeks pay, but its implementation has been criticised as overly complex.

Why only 50 weeks of SPL and 37 weeks of Shared Parental Pay? Because it is still compulsory for mothers to take two weeks maternity leave following the birth of a child. Fathers will be able to exercise their right to statutory paternity leave and pay during this time. It should also be noted that the further four weeks of statutory maternity pay at 90% of normal pay can only be used by the mother or primary adopter, a partner can only claim the lower statutory rate during these weeks.

The SPL regime does give rise to complexity and there are a number of important principles for employers to bear in mind as follows:

  • Each parent must have 26 weeks continuous service before they can take SPL.
  • Each parent will need to give their employer eight weeks notice before they can take SPL. They will also be required to give a non-binding indication of their proposed SPL plans i.e. how much they propose to take and in what pattern.
  • Parents can take SPL at the same time or separately.
  • Parents have up to three notices that they can submit to request leave.
  • They can request leave in a continuous block of whole weeks, which cannot be refused.
  • Parents can request to take SPL in discontinuous blocks, so long as each block is a week or more. An employer does not have to agree to this and there will be a two-week discussion period in which the parties can try to agree arrangements. If they can’t agree, SPL must be taken in one block but the employee can choose the start date.
  • Each parent will have up to 20 “keeping in touch” days, known as “SPLIT” days, during SPL.
  • The same rights to return to work will apply as after maternity leave: the right to return to the same job if not more than 26 weeks SPL have been taken; or the right to return to the same job as far as reasonably practicable or a suitable alternative if more than 26 weeks SPL have been taken.
  • A father who takes SPL will have the same enhanced protection against detriment and dismissal that a woman has during her protected period.

Employers should also note that there may be a discrimination risk where they continue to operate an enhanced maternity pay scheme, but do not enhance Shared Parental Pay. It is possible that a man receiving statutory Shared Parental Pay may be able to compare himself directly or indirectly with a woman receiving enhanced maternity pay. The claims would be by no means simple to successfully pursue, indeed similar arguments in relation to Additional Paternity Pay recently failed, but employers should be alive to the possible risks.

If you would like more information on SPL, please contact:

Further reading

Remote working and home security

Blog, News & PR
20/01/2021
With a large proportion of the workforce now working from home, security arrangements for home workers need to be addressed - Robert Ganpatsingh explains
Read more Read

Tenants take note: dilapidations damages to be subject to VAT

Blog, Legal Updates
19/01/2021
Property expert Cheraine Williams explains why dilapidations could be about to get more expensive
Read more Read

Covid business interruption insurance payments due to small and medium companies

Blog, Legal Updates
19/01/2021
Partner Jonathan Compton looks at the Supreme Court’s decision on business interruption insurance
Read more Read

DMH Stallard’s corporate team shortlisted for four awards

Blog, News & PR
18/01/2021
Current Corporate Law Firm of the Year hoping to hold on to the title in 2021
Read more Read
  • Brighton Office

    1 Jubilee Street

    Brighton

    East Sussex

    BN1 1GE

  • Gatwick Office

    Griffin House

    135 High Street

    Crawley

    West Sussex

    RH10 1DQ

  • Guildford Office

    Wonersh House

    The Guildway

    Old Portsmouth Road

    Guildford

    Surrey

    GU3 1LR

  • Horsham Office

    Ridgeland House

    15 Carfax

    Horsham

    West Sussex

    RH12 1DY

  • London Office

    6 New Street Square

    New Fetter Lane

    London

    EC4A 3BF

  • Get in touch