I wanted to provide some guidance on the recent family friendly laws, the Shared Parental Leave Regulations came into effect on 1st December 2014. This is the main piece of legislation which will enact the new system of taking time off work when a child is born. There are several qualifying criteria for employees to meet before they can opt into shared parental leave. This article outlines those criteria.
Only qualifying employees can take shared parental leave. If an employee does not meet all of the qualifying criteria, then they must use the existing maternity and paternity entitlements i.e. the mother is entitled to maximum 52 weeks’ leave and the father is entitled to 2 weeks’ paternity leave.
If an employee does qualify for shared parental leave but feels that the current maternity/paternity system will suit them, then they can still take leave in that way instead. Shared parental leave is an optional entitlement which qualifying employees can choose to take.
The criteria which must be met in order for an employee to take shared parental leave differs depending on whether you employ the mother or her “partner”. The term “partner” is used in this article to refer to the person with whom the mother is sharing her leave. This can be the child’s father; the mother’s husband; the mother’s civil partner; or her partner. Leave can only be shared with one person.
To qualify for shared parental leave, your employee (either the mother or the partner) must:
· Have an expected week of childbirth (EWC) of 5th April 2015 or later. If the EWC is earlier than this, then the employee will not qualify even if the baby is born after 5th April 2015. If the EWC is on or after 5th April 2015 but is born earlier than that, the employee will still qualify;
· Have 26 weeks’ service at the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) and remain in continuous employment until the week before he/she takes a period of shared parental leave;
· Have a partner who meets the employment and earnings test. This means that in the 66 weeks before the EWC, the person has worked for at least 26 weeks and has earned on average at least £30 a week in any 13 weeks;
· Share the primary responsibility for the child with the other parent at the time of the birth;
· Have properly notified you of their entitlement and have provided the necessary declarations and evidence.
If you employ the mother, additionally she must:
· Be entitled to statutory maternity leave or statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance;
· Have ended, or given notice to end, her maternity leave.
The same principles will apply when a child is adopted, where the date of placement is on or after 5th April 2015.