Shared parental leave - Government's response

13 January 2014

The Government has published its response to the Consultation on the administration of Shared Parental Leave and Pay and it intends to implement the new system in 2015.

Shared parental leave will allow eligible couples to be on leave from work for a maximum of 52 weeks. They will also be entitled to a maximum of 39 weeks’ shared parental pay. Leave may be taken:

  • Together, so both the woman and her partner are away from work at the same time - but only after the period of compulsory maternity leave or
  • Consecutively i.e. the mother could return to work and her partner could then take the balance of the leave or
  • By taking turns i.e. with the couple taking more than one period of leave each.

Employees will be required to:

  • Give eight weeks’ notice to their employers of their intention to take shared parental leave and this is inclusive of a two week discussion period with their employer.
  • Provide a non-binding indication of their expected pattern of leave as part of the notification of their eligibility and intention to take shared parental leave.

Other key elements of the new system are as follows:

  • A notice to end maternity leave in order to start shared parental leave will be binding. However, if given prior to the baby’s birth, a mother will have six weeks after the baby’s birth to revoke this binding notice.
  • The introduction of a cap of three notifications for periods of leave to be taken, in order to create a greater certainty for employers. This means that an employer does not have to accept any more than three notifications to take shared parental leave on specific dates or changes to dates already agreed.
  • Setting a time limit of 52 weeks from the baby’s birth for taking shared parental leave
  • Parents to have up to 20 KIT days each to use whilst on shared parental leave. These days will be re-named to distinguish them from KIT days for use during the maternity leave period. The KIT days on shared parental leave will be additional to the 10 KIT days which will continue to be available to a woman whilst she is on maternity leave.
  • The right to return to the same job will be maintained for employees returning from any period of leave that includes maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave that totals 26 weeks or less in aggregate, even if the leave is taken in discontinuous blocks.

Draft regulations detailing how the system will work are to be published before the Bill receives Royal Assent.

By Joanna Lada-Walicki

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