It is likely over the coming months more clients will begin to seek guidance on the issue of Shared Parental Leave (ShPL). Whilst the scheme itself is not new, having first been introduced in April 2015, the government are making a concerted effort to increase awareness amongst the general public as a result of so few individuals choosing to take up the scheme in recent years.
Your client should be aware that ShPL allows eligible parents to share a maximum of 50 weeks leave between them to care for their child. SPL grants parents greater flexibility to divide the allocated time up between themselves, allowing them to choose between spending time off with their child together or having one parent spend time caring for the child alone whilst the other returns to work.
During the period of leave, eligible parents will be entitled to Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) currently set at £140.98 per week (set to rise to £145.18 in April 2018). It is important your client understands that SPP does not cover the entirety of the leave period, instead parents are entitled to a maximum of 39 weeks of paid leave minus any weeks paid as Statutory Maternity or Adoption Pay.
The scheme looks to provide greater equality amongst parents, allowing mothers the possibility to return to their careers earlier, whilst giving fathers or partners the opportunity to take a greater share of the childcare. Your client needs to be aware that not all employees will be eligible to take part in the scheme. Generally speaking for an employee to be eligible they must at least meet the following requirements:
- They must share responsibility for the child with either; their husband/wife or joint adopter; the child’s other parent or their partner
- They must have worked for your client for a continuous period of at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date (or the date they are matched with their adopted child)
There are other more detailed terms employees must adhere to in order to be eligible for ShPL and ShPP, including strict notice requirements the employee has to meet. Having a clear policy in place regarding ShPL and ShPP will help your client manage this leave and can be used to increase awareness among staff, nd managers. Additionally, they could arrange a training session on this leave to help inform employees about the way the leave works and the requirements in place.