A new system of shared parental leave will be introduced on 1 October 2014 for eligible employees whose babies are due on or after 5 April 2015.
Some of the key points to note are as follows:
• Mothers are still entitled to 52 weeks’ maternity leave. During this time, mothers must take two weeks’ compulsory maternity leave. However, after this two-week period has elapsed, parents will be able to share the remaining 50 weeks’ leave.
• The new system confers an entitlement to statutory shared parental pay for up to 37 weeks.
• The parent who wants to take shared parental leave must have 26 weeks’ service with their employer by the end of the 15th week of the expected week of childbirth.
• The person sharing the mother’s leave must be either the child’s father, the mother’s husband or civil partner, or a partner living in a long-term family relationship.
• Both parents will need to give their respective employers eight weeks' notice to begin a period of shared parental leave and to receive shared parental pay.
• The right to shared parental leave will replace the right to take additional paternity leave (APL). However, the rules on shared parental leave have been designed to give parents a greater degree of flexibility than the APL rules permitted. The most notable change in this respect is that the child's mother does not need to return to work in order for the other parent to take shared parental leave.
• An employee returning to work from shared parental leave will have the right to return to the same job provided (s) he has taken no more than 26 weeks’ leave in total.
• Adoptive parents will be able to take shared parental leave, as will parents in a surrogacy arrangement.
At present, we cannot predict what the take-up rate will be for these new provisions. However, employers should note that they may start getting requests for shared parental leave from parents of children who are conceived from July 2014 onwards. Consequently, employers should be updating their policies and procedures as soon as possible to reflect the new rules.
For further information, please contact Alan Glazer or your usual contact at Murray Beith Murray.