Shared parental leave – what employers need to know

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Shared parental leave

Under new regulations, parents of babies due or adopted on or after 5 April will be entitled to shared parental leave, but what do employers need to know? The IoD’s Information and Advisory Services (IAS) offers five top tips

From today parents can start sharing parental leave – and with take-up predicted to be much higher than government estimates (62 per cent rather than two per cent, according to research by law firm Linklaters) – what should employers be considering?

1 Shared parental leave (SPL) will enable eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to share the time they take off work if their child is due or adopted on or after 5 April 2015. After that date, parents can choose to be off work at the same time and/or take it in turns to take leave in order to look after their child. Employers need to think about how this could affect their business.

2 Employed mothers will be eligible for 52 weeks’ maternity leave and 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay or allowance, but, if they choose to do so, they can end their maternity leave early and opt for SPL instead – meaning they divide the leave between themselves and their partner. They can take a maximum of 50 weeks’ leave as SPL and a maximum of 37 weeks’ pay as statutory shared parental pay (ShPP). ShPP is paid at the rate of £138.18 a week or 90 per cent of an employee’s average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

3 Once your employee has given notice of their maternity, adoption or paternity leave, it might be useful to arrange an informal meeting to discuss options. It will give you an idea of the type and pattern of leave your employee is thinking about taking. Employers may allow the staff member to be accompanied by a colleague, trade union representative, or even a family member – and in some cases this may be necessary under the Equality Act 2010 as part of a reasonable access requirement for a disabled employee.

4 After the employee has given notice to book leave, your next step will depend on whether they have chosen to take leave in a continuous block or to split up the time. Continuous leave cannot be refused so you will need to decide how to cover that period. If employees request discontinuous leave you will have 14 calendar days to discuss and finalise the proposal with the staff member.

5 Employers must consider how leave arrangements will affect the business. How could the impact be minimised? Will any change to the leave reduce the effect and would the employee agree to the alteration? Consider what could be done to make the process as mutually beneficial as possible.

For prompt legal advice on shared parental leave, contact Directors’ Law Express iod.com/lawexpress, send an email or call 0870 241 3478

How could the IAS help you?

• IAS provides IoD members with free business intelligence and advice to help them run their companies efficiently and more successfully

• The Business Information Service is able to investigate questions on your behalf and supply you with valuable information ranging from market forecasts and industry trends to trading abroad and employee salaries

• The Directors’ Advisory Service provides confidential, independent advice from specialists on issues ranging from raising finance to board and shareholders’ disputes

• Members can receive prompt and confidential business and personal taxand legal advice through our telephone helplines.

iod.com/guidance

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About author

Hannah Baker

Hannah Baker

Hannah Baker is deputy editor at Think Publishing. Previously she worked as a features writer and sub-editor for Director magazine

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