Update: the UK government launched a “share the joy” shared parental leave campaign in 2018 to encourage further uptake of this system for working parents.
A new system of shared parental leave will be introduced on or after 5th April 2015. This new system will give parents the right to share parental leave and pay. This system will replace additional paternity leave and pay. The purpose of shared parental leave is to enable eligible parents to choose how to share the care of their child during the first year of the child’s birth or the adoption of the child.
Giving parents choice
Shared parental leave is optional. The manner it works is as follows; the mother opts out of maternity leave/ statutory maternity pay system and opts into the shared parental leave/ shared parental pay system. This enables both parents to share whatever time/pay is left under the maternity leave.
Who is entitled to Shared Parental Leave and pay?
If the Expected Week of Childbirth (“EWC”) begins on or after 5 April 2015, the mother can share leave with her partner if they’re both eligible for shared parental leave and the mother ends her maternity/adoption leave early.
The mother has 52 weeks entitlement but in reality 50 weeks because she must take 2 weeks’ compulsory maternity leave (4 weeks if she works in a factory). Similarly there are up to 39 weeks statutory shared parental pay (but in reality 37 weeks, as 2 weeks will be paid during compulsory maternity leave).
To be entitled to shared parental leave the individual must share care of the child with either their husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter; the child’s other parent or their partner (if they live with the child).
In addition to the above, either the individual or the individual’s partner must be eligible for maternity leave/pay, maternity allowance, or adoption leave/pay.
Finally the individual must have been employed continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the EWC. They must also be employed by the same employer while they take the shared parental leave and have the main responsibility for the care of the child (apart from any responsibility of the partner).
The partner’s eligibility
The partner must meet the ‘employment and earnings test’.
This employment and earnings test is as follows;
That during the 66 weeks before the baby is due the partner must have;
- been working for at least 26 weeks; and
- have earned at least £30 a week on average, taking the highest earnings from 13 of the last 66 weeks; and
- At the date of the birth the partner must have the main responsibility for the care of the child apart from the mother.
- The partner can be employed, self-employed or an agency worker.
Statutory shared parental pay
The individuals will qualify for Statutory Shared Parental pay if one of the following applies:
- They qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Statutory Adoption Pay; or
- They qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay and have a partner who qualifies for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance or Statutory Adoption Pay.
Notice to take shared parental leave
Although the requirement to give notice has not been discussed within this article it needs to be borne in mind that three notices are required. These in brief are as follows:
- The mother and partner must each give their employers written notice of entitlement to shared parental leave and shared parental pay. Specific information is set down in the regulations as to what the notice must detail; and
- The employee must provide a signed declaration stating a number of specific pieces of information;
- The employee’s partner must also provide a signed declaration.
It will be interesting to see how this new right is utilised by parents.
Our leave management software is able to record shared parental leave among many other absence types. Get in touch to find out more.
Written by Fiona Sanderson
Fiona is Marketing Manager at myhrtoolkit. Her areas of expertise include HR systems, productivity, employment law updates, and creating HR infographics.