Shared Parental Leave

On 1 December 2014 new legislation will come into force which will entitle eligible parents to share time off after their baby is born or adopted.

The new scheme, called Shared Parental Leave, will be available for those whose baby is expected to be born or is adopted on or after 5 April 2015.

The couple will be able to share 50 weeks of leave between them (the first 2 weeks of maternity leave is compulsory for a mother). Typically, a parent who wants to return to work before the end of maternity or adoption leave forfeits the remaining time to which they are entitled. This scheme means that the other parent could take the remainder. However, the parents could take their shared leave at the same time if they wish or, if agreeable to the employer, in several discontinuous blocks.
As with maternity and paternity leave, individuals on shared parental leave remain employees entitled to their usual terms and conditions of employment (apart from pay) and, depending on the length of leave they have had, will be entitled to return to their usual job or one which is both suitable and appropriate.
For employers, Shared Parental Leave is perhaps a daunting prospect but good planning should assist. If employees want to take advantage of the scheme, they need to give notice of their intentions and provide evidence of eligibility as requested by their employers so, employers would do well to prepare standard forms for the various notices and lists of the evidence they will request. ACAS has produced a guide and a flow chart to help for employers and employees navigate this new right which can be found on the ACAS website