INSIGHT: Calculating The Impact Of Shared Parental Leave
With the long-awaited arrival of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) legislation just weeks away, employers would be wise to prepare for the delivery of this radically flexible SPL system. Susan Mayall, head of employment at Pearson, explains.
While the changes mark a positive step forward for women in the workplace and will enable more men to spend time with their newborn or newly adopted children, the complexity of the legislation means that employers must fully understand their rights as well as their obligations in order to balance a fairer system for parents with the financial realities of the workplace.
The new system enables parents to divide the full 50-week parental leave and 37-week ShPP entitlement either consecutively or concurrently and to take it in a number of discontinuous blocks if they prefer. Under the new terms parents can take time off together, have the flexibility for the mother to return to work early or to alternate leave between parents separately - as long as the total leave does not exceed the time jointly available to the couple.
The SPL system will affect parents of any child with an expected week of childbirth (EWC) beginning on or after 5 April or placed for adoption on or after the same date.
To help prospective parents calculate their eligibility for shared parental leave and their pay entitlements, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has also developed an online calculator.
Fortunately, the needs of the employer have also been factored into the legislation. The key provisions are:
Parents must submit a leave notice at least eight weeks before their proposed first period of leave.
While employers will be obliged to accept a request for one continuous period of SPL, they will have two weeks to respond to any leave notices that request discontinuous leave periods and will have the right to refuse the request or propose alternatives.
The mother must also give her employer a ‘curtailment notice’ at least eight weeks before she would like her leave or pay entitlement to end.
To prevent abuse of the new system, the legislation also entitles the employer to request a copy the child’s birth certificate or adoption papers and the other parent’s contact details.
Employers will now need to take as much care when dealing with fathers making requests for (or being on) parental leave as employers do now with women taking maternity leave, to avoid potential claims of discrimination or less favourable treatment by reason of parental leave.
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Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.
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