1. When does SPL come into force?
SPL can be taken by parents for children born on or after 5 April 2015
2. When can an employee make a claim?
That being said, employees will be able to make a claim after 14 December 2014 if, when making a request for SPL for a child born after 5 April 2015, they are treated unfairly.
3. How long must a new mother stay off for?
A mother must stay off work for 2 weeks after giving birth to a child. This period will remain as compulsory maternity leave.
4. When can SPL begin?
SPL can therefore begin 2 weeks after the birth of the child. (At the moment, additional paternity leave cannot commence until the baby is 20 weeks’ old)
5. What about the first 2 weeks for fathers/partners?
Fathers/partners will still be entitled to 2 weeks’ paternity leave immediately after the birth of the child.
6. Who is eligible?
Obviously the mother is eligible, but the second person can be either the father or the husband, civil partner or partner of the mother at the time of birth. Partner in this context is someone of either sex who lives with the mother and child in an ‘enduring family relationship’.
7. How long must employees have been working to enjoy this entitlement to SPL?
Employees must have worked continuously for the same employer for 26 weeks before the stage at which the birth is expected in 14 weeks.
The other parent requires to have worked 26 weeks out of the previous 66 weeks leading up to the birth and have earned above the maternity allowance threshold.
8. How much leave is permitted to be shared?
The remaining 50 weeks can be shared between the parents.
9. Can both parents be off at the same time?
Yes. Where there is overlapping leave by both parents, the amount of time off will be doubled (i.e. if both parents are off for 1 week, this will count as 2 weeks’ shared parental leave.)
10. How much leave is to be paid?
SPL is to be paid for 39 of the 52 available weeks.
11. How much is the statutory amount an employee will be paid?
For the first 6 weeks, the statutory shared parental leave will be 90% of the average weekly earnings. After that, the person on leave will receive 90% of the average weekly earnings or £136.78 a week, whichever is lower in value.
12. What will happen to the current entitlement to maternity and paternity leave?
Mothers will still have the option to elect to use the current, more traditional form of maternity leave for the 52 weeks instead of using the new SPL. Fathers will also still be able to take their 2 week entitled paternity leave after birth and prior to SPL commencing.
13. How long does a mother get before she can change her mind and revert back to the more traditional maternity leave scheme?
If a request for SPL is made prior to the birth, then it must be granted following the birth. However the mother has 6 weeks after the birth to change her mind and revert back to the more traditional maternity leave scheme.
14. How much notice needs to be given?
8 weeks’ notice needs to be given by an employee who intends to take SPL. This includes a 2 week discussion period which needs to take place between an employer and an employee.
15. How many Keeping In Touch (KIT) days or, in the case of SPL, SPLIT (Shared Parental Leave In Touch) days are permitted?
There are 20 SPLIT days each to be shared whilst on SPL. Parents will be able to use these SPLIT days to return to work on a part time basis.
16. How many notifications can an employee give to an employer?
An employee can give up to 3 notifications of an intention to take SPL, unless it is mutually agreed with the employer that more can be taken.
17. How long should each period off be?
SPL should be taken in week blocks, either as a solitary week or as a number of weeks. The odd day here and there should not be taken as SPL.
18. What information can the employer request?
When a request is made for SPL, the employer can request sight of the child’s birth certificate within 14 days (as soon as possible if the request is made prior to the birth) and the name and address of the partner’s employer.
19. What about adoptions?
Adopters will have the same rights as other parents when adopting a child after 5 April 2015.
20. When should you review your current policies on parental leave?
Now. April 2015 will arrive before you know it and requests may start coming in from employees in the New Year.Andrew Wallace Trainee Solicitor – Employment