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Understanding shared parental leave

Getting to grips with shared parental leave

In a hope to banish the outdated stereotype that women are more likely to take time off than men when a new baby joins the family, the UK government has recently changed the way parental leave works. Parents are now able to share the 52 weeks leave after having a baby or adopting. While new parents have praised the new system, trying to decipher what their employees are entitled to is causing UK employers a bit of a headache.

 

Here Charlotte Walker, branch manager of Brampton Recruitment demystifies shared parental leave and discusses what these changes mean for you, as an employer.

Shared parental leave came into action in April 2015, but almost a year later it’s still a bit of a mystery. The concept is designed to enable working parents to share leave and to take time off work in a more flexible way, following the birth or adoption of a child.

Qualification

To qualify for shared parental leave, an employee must have been continuously employed by you for 26 weeks up to and including the 15th week before their baby is due to be born, and still be employed by you in the week before any shared parental leave is due to start.

For your employee to qualify for shared parental leave, the other parent needs to pass an employment and earnings test. To do this, they must have been employed or self-employed in Great Britain for a total of 26 weeks in the 66 week period leading up to the child’s expected birth date. The other parent should also have earned an average of at least £30 a week in 13 of those 26 weeks. It’s your employee’s responsibility to check their partner is eligible for shared parental leave and they must provide you with a written declaration confirming this.

Adoption

Along with the introduction of shared parental leave came changes to adopters’ entitlement. Adopters are now entitled to similar rights as birth parents, such as being able to start leave up to 14 days prior to the placement date. Adopters will also be entitled to statutory adoption pay for up to 39 weeks of leave. The weekly amount they are entitled to is 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings for the first six weeks, and £139.58 or 90% of their average weekly earnings for the next 33 weeks, depending on which is the lowest amount.

One of the major changes to adoption leave is that employees are now entitled to take time off even if they have recently changed jobs. Like maternity leave, adoption leave is now a ‘day one right’, meaning that adopters are entitled to take leave from their first day of employment, but it will be unpaid. Eligible employees are now also entitled to time off to attend adoption appointments.

What do I need to do?

Shared parental leave allows working families to have more choice about how they balance their work and caring commitments. Parents can choose to be at home together, or to work at different times and share the care of their child.

It’s important to know the facts and get the details right when a member of staff approaches you with a request for shared parental leave. When managed correctly, the new system allows employers to keep talented staff and have a more motivated and productive workforce. More information can be found in the UK government’s employer guide to shared parental leave and pay.

Brampton Recruitment was recently mentioned on Recruitment Agency Now. Click here to see branch manager, Charlotte Walker discussing how recruiters can have a more prominent role in careers advice for young people.

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