Shared parental leave represents a significant change in current legislation which is aimed at giving parents more flexibility over how they share childcare during the first year of their child’s life. It is hoped that this will cater for a growing desire by men to play a more hands-on role in a baby’s first months.
These changes will apply to all employers and will require existing policies and practices to be reviewed and updated to ensure compliance with the Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014.
This special Shared Parental Leave Guide Part II is all about making sense of Shared Parental Leave and there will be additional Q&As over the coming months to answer more of your questions.
1. Who qualifies for shared parental leave? An employee can take shared parental leave with his or her spouse, civil partner or partner. Partner is defined as someone (whether of a different sex or the same sex) who lives with the employee in an enduring family relationship (but who is not his or her child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew).
2. What evidence is required of an entitlement to shared parental leave? The employer can request a copy of the child’s birth certificate and the name and address of the employee’s partner’s employer. This information must be provided within 14 days of the request. In addition, it should be made clear that providing a false declaration of an entitlement to shared parental leave/pay may lead to disciplinary action being taken.
3. How much notice must an employee give of their intention to take shared parental leave? Before either parent can take shared parental leave, the mother must give her employer notice of the date she intends to bring her maternity leave to an end. This must be given no more than eight weeks before the start of the first period of shared parental leave taken by either of the parents.
At the same time the mother must also give her employer (1) notice of how much shared parental leave the parents each intend to take and when the mother intends to take leave; or (2) a declaration stating that her partner has given his or her employer a notice of intention to take shared parental leave and that she consents to her partner taking that amount of leave.
4. Are parents entitled to shared parental leave if their baby is due after 5 April 2015 but is actually born before this date? Yes, the parents’ eligibility for shared parental leave will not be affected. However, shared parental leave would not be available to babies who are born on or after 5 April 2015 when the expected week of birth is before 5 April 2015.
In the next article, we will look at payment of shared parental leave, whether requests for shared parental leave can be refused and employee rights following a period of shared parental leave.