SPL is a new legal entitlement for eligible parents of babies due, or children placed for adoption, on or after 5 April 2015. It provides both parents with the opportunity to consider the best arrangement to care for their child during the child’s first year.
The regulations give parents the right to take SPL and place a duty on employers to ensure that their employees are not penalised for using their entitlement or put under pressure to cancel/change a leave notification.
The amount of leave available is calculated using the mother’s entitlement to maternity/adoption leave, which allows them to take up to 52 weeks’ leave. If they reduce their maternity/adoption leave entitlement then they and/or their partner may opt-in to the SPL system and take any remaining weeks as SPL. This means their partner could begin to take SPL while the mother is still on maternity/adoption leave.
SPL enables parents to share the caring responsibilities evenly or have one parent taking the main caring role, depending on their preferences and circumstances. unlike maternity/adoption leave, eligible employees can stop and start their SPL and return to work between periods of leave with each eligible parent able to submit three notices booking periods of leave (although an employer may allow more).
Employers and employees will find that having early conversations regarding leave intentions will be beneficial, enabling them both to be clear regarding the entitlement, what leave arrangements are being considered and how any leave will be accommodated.
What Happens to Maternity Paternity / Adoption Leave?
Parents will remain entitled to take maternity, paternity and adoption leave. However, an eligible mother or adopter may now choose to reduce their maternity/adoption leave early and opt in to SPL.
A birth mother must take at least two weeks maternity leave following the birth of a child (four weeks for manual work in a factory environment) but can otherwise choose to end her maternity leave at any stage. An adopter can end their adoption leave once they have taken it for two weeks.
The Shared Parental Leave eligibility criteria
To qualify for SPL a mother must:
- have a partner
- be entitled to either maternity/adoption leave or to statutory maternity/ adoption pay or maternity allowance
- have curtailed, or given notice to reduce, their maternity/adoption leave, or their pay/allowance (if not eligible for maternity/adoption leave).
A parent intending to take SPL must:
- be an employee
- share the primary responsibility for the child with the other parent at the time of the birth or placement for adoption
- have properly notified their employer of their entitlement and have provided the necessary declarations and evidence
In addition, a parent wanting to take SPL is required to satisfy the ‘continuity of employment test’ and their partner must meet the ‘employment and earnings test’.
Continuity of employment test – The individual has worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the child’s expected due date/matching date and is still working for the employer at the start of each leave period
Employment and earnings test – In the 66 weeks leading up to the baby’s expected due date/ matching date, the person has worked for at least 26 weeks and earned an average of at least £30 (as of 2015) a week in any 13 weeks.
Sometimes only one parent will be eligible. For example a self-employed parent will not be entitled to SPL themselves but they may still pass the employment and earnings test so their partner, if they are an employee, may still qualify.
If both parents are employees and both meet the qualifying requirements then there will be a joint entitlement and the parents will have to determine how to divide the leave entitlement once the mother has decided to curtail their maternity/adoption leave.
If you require more information on this or would like us to produce a policy then get in touch.