When it comes to time off for parents, employees have several rights and requirements. To gain a suitable work-life balance, your staff can apply for Shared Parental Leave.
It’s different to other forms of leave; and it allows eligible parents to split their leave time more suitably.
When employees decide on taking shared leave, it’s vital to follow the correct procedure. Failing to provide statutory rights can lead to claims of discrimination. And these can be escalated to employment tribunals–resulting in costly legal fees and business damages.
In this guide, we’ll look at what shared parental leave is; rules for birth and non-birth parents; and your legal compliance for parental leave rights.
What is Shared Parental Leave?
Shared Parent Leave (or SPL) provides parents with more leave time, to care for a new baby or child.
This type of leave is mostly used when people want to end maternity leave earlier. They choose this, so both parents gain flexibility during their baby’s initial years.
The legal rules and requirements are different to other forms of parental leave.
How does Shared Parental Leave work?
This type of leave allows both parents the opportunity to take time off work to be with their new child.
But there are different requirements needed to qualify for leave. And they’ll also vary depending on whether employees are birth, adoptive, or surrogate-using parents.
The employee and their partner qualify for Shared Parent Leave and/or pay if they’re:
- Having a baby.
- Using a surrogate to have a baby.
- Adopting a baby.
Together, they can share up to 50 weeks of leave; and up to 37 weeks of pay.
Employees can stagger their leave time or take it all in one block. And they can take it individually, or at the same time as their partner.
Leave can only be claimed after the child is born or joins the family–and after appropriate notice has been provided.
What are the laws on Shared Parental Leave?
Employers must legally provide eligible employees with shared parent leave and pay under:
- The Shared Parental Leave Regulations (2014).
- The Statutory Shared Parental Pay (General) Regulations (2014).
Is Shared Parental Leave a statutory right for employees?
Leave is only available for those who legally class as employees. Workers cannot qualify for this; but can apply for the payment.
- Take their remaining 52 weeks of maternity/adoptive leave as SPL.
- Change their 39 weeks of maternity/adoptive pay as ShPP.
How much is Statutory Shared Parental Leave Pay?
As of 2022, employees are paid £151.97 for Statutory Shared Parental Pay (or ShPP).
This is payment provided to employees on leave, due to the birth or adoption of a child. And it’s either paid weekly or is based on 90% of their average weekly earnings.
The rate is the same as Statutory Maternity Pay (or SMP). The only difference is SMP is paid at 90% (with no maximum limit) during the first six weeks.
Shared Parental Leave for birth parents
To qualify, birth parents need to have a shared responsibility for the child since their birth. This is needed alongside meeting work and payment requirements.
Both birth parents need to know:
- Their child’s due date or birth date.
- Their employment status and earnings.
- Whether they’ll get Statutory Maternity or Paternity Pay.
What if both parents want to share their leave?
If both parents want to take leave, they both must:
- Legally class as an employee.
- Have continuously worked up for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date.
- Have stayed with the same employer until the start of the SPL.
What if one parent wants to take leave?
If one person (either the mother or their partner) wants to take leave, they must:
- Have worked for 26 out of 66 weeks before the baby’s due date. (This doesn’t have to be consecutive).
- Have earned at least £390 during 13 out of the 66 weeks.
Shared Parental Leave for non-birth parents
Non-birth parents, like adoptive or surrogate parents, have similar eligibility requirements for Shared Parental Leave.
Both non-births need to have a shared responsibility for the child at birth (through surrogacy) or at adoption. And they’ll need to meet work and payment requirements too.
Both non-birth parents need to know:
- Their child’s due date or adoption date.
- Their employment status and earnings.
- Whether they’ll get Statutory Adoption Pay or Statutory Paternity Pay.
It’s important to follow the correct procedures and provide legal entitlements to all employees.
Make sure you don’t discriminate against between birth and non-birth parents. Both types of parents are entitled to legal pay and leave.
If you are found guilty of discrimination against shared parental leave rights, you could face costly penalties and business damages.
What if both non-birth parents want to share leave?
If both non-birth parents want to share leave, the same eligibility rules as birth parents apply.
The only difference is everything is based on the day the child joins the family, instead of a birth date.
How to manage Shared Parental Leave in the workplace?
Employees can only start their leave or pay once the child has been born or been adopted.
Firstly, the mother (or person receiving adoption leave) must either:
- Return to work (which ends any maternity/adoptive leave and pay).
- Provide their employer with a ‘binding notice’ of their leave date. (Normally, this cannot be changed).
Changing the decision to end maternity or adoptive leave
The mother (or person adopting) is allowed to change their decision to end maternity/adoptive leave early. However, they must inform their employer beforehand.
They are only allowed to change it if:
- The decided date hasn’t passed.
- They haven’t already returned to work.
Eight weeks’ notice must also be provided if employees want to change any dates or requests.
Booking Shared Parental Leave
Employees can block-book their leave up in one go, or up to three separate periods. And this applies on an individual scale, as well as for both partners.
They can also apply for Shared Parental Leave in Touch (SPLIT), which further shortens the blocks.
Here, both partners can work up to 20 days whilst on leave. These days are in addition to 10 ‘keeping in touch’ (or KIT) days.
Application for Shared Parental Leave
You can provide advice on shared parental leave through your own templates and policies.
Both employees need to provide their notice dates and forms eight weeks in advance. Their applications for leave must outline:
- Notice to take (or plan to take) leave or pay.
- Whether they will end other leave periods (like maternity/adoptive leave).
- The dates and length of their leave period.
If you require additional information, it must be given within 14 days of their leave or pay application. This might include:
- A copy of the child’s birth certificate.
- Declaration of the date and place of the child’s birth.
- Name and address of their partner’s employer (or declaration for unemployment).
For adoptions, you can ask for the same information, as well as dates on matching and family residence.
Get further advice on shared parental leave with Peninsula
The best way to manage shared parental leave, is through clear guidance on legal rights and business rules.
You need to remember that employees will mostly return to the workplace. So, it’s important to keep this temporary departure period friendly and professional.
If you don’t act reasonably or lawfully, you could risk facing discrimination claims. And any judicial hearings will damage your business’s reputation and bottom-line.
Peninsula offers professional and up to date advise on all forms of parental leave. Our clients get access to 24-hour HR advice who will ensure your leave policies and absence procedures follow the law.
Get in touch today; or use our callback form to arrange a more convenient time for you. Call us on 0800 028 2420.