The Government has published its response to the consultation seeking views on how to administer the shared parental leave scheme, which is due to be introduced by the Children and Families Bill in 2015.
Under the proposed new scheme, shared parental leave will allow eligible mothers and their partners to be absent from work to care for a child for a maximum of 52 weeks. Eligible couples could also take up to 39 weeks of shared parental pay. A couple will be able to take the leave together so that the mother will not necessarily return to work after compulsory maternity leave. Alternatively, the mother could return to work and allow her partner to take the leave, or the couple could take the leave in turns.
The Government has also confirmed the following:
- A woman will also need to give her employer at least eight weeks’ notice of her intention to end maternity leave and begin shared parental leave (SPL) and claim shared parental pay (SPP).
- The woman will be entitled to give the notice before the child’s birth. This will enable her and her partner to begin SPL and claim SPP immediately after the compulsory two week maternity period.
- Both parents will need to give their respective employers eight weeks’ notice to begin SPL and if they wish to take several blocks of leave, they must give their employers eight weeks’ notice in respect of each period of leave. The eight weeks will include a two week discussion period between the employer and employee.
- Employees will be required to provide a non-binding indication of their expected pattern of leave when they notify their employer of their intention to take SPL.
- A maximum of three notifications of a period of leave or variations of a period of leave will apply
The Government has also proposed the following:
- After considering responses to the consultation the government has decided that the cut off point for taking SPL will be 52 weeks from the birth of the child, rather than the start of the mother’s maternity leave.
- Each person in a couple will have up to 20 ‘Keeping in Touch Days’ while on shared parental leave; and
- The right to return to the same job will be maintained for employees returning from any period of leave (including maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave and shared parental leave) which totals 26 weeks or less in aggregate, even if the leave is taken in discontinuous blocks.
The Government states in the response to consultation that it is currently preparing the secondary legislation to set out the administrative detail of how the new scheme will work and that it intends to publish this in draft form before the Bill receives Royal Assent.
Clare McDairmant, Marketing Manager and Solicitor, Just Employment Solicitors.