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 III is all about making sense of Shared Parental Leave by answering some more of your questions.
1. Are employees entitled to statutory pay while on shared parental leave? Employees will be entitled to up to 37 weeks’ statutory shared parental pay (paid at the flat rate) and is available for parents to share between them. The mother cannot end her maternity leave/pay until the end of the compulsory maternity leave period, which is usually 2 weeks.
Therefore, the maximum amount of statutory shared parental pay that is available for the parents to share is 39 weeks, minus the amount of statutory maternity pay taken by the mother.
2. Can parents take paid shared parental leave at the same time? Yes. Parents can be on shared parental leave and receive statutory shared paternity pay at the same time as each other provided they notify their employers of how much shared parental pay they are entitled to and how they will divide it between themselves.
3. Can an employee’s request to take shared parental leave be refused? If an employee submits a period of leave notice requesting one continuous period of leave, the employer must allow him or her to take the period of leave on the dates requested. If an employee submits a period of leave notice requesting discontinuous periods of leave, (e.g. 3 weeks’ leave in May, 5 weeks’ leave in June etc), the employer can refuse the request and suggest alternative dates.
However, an employee can overcome this by requesting each period in a separate period of leave notice (8 weeks per request), since employees are permitted to submit up to three separate leave notices, without the employer having the right to refuse the request.
4. Can an employee return to the same job after taking a period of shared parental leave? Yes, provided that the shared parental leave totals more than 26 weeks or the shared parental leave was the last of two or more consecutive periods of statutory leave that included a period of ordinary parental leave of more than four weeks and a period of additional maternity leave.