The new shared parental leave and pay provisions will be of general interest, but pension scheme rules should be reviewed so that they reflect the new regulations which came into force on 1 December 2014.
The new provisions apply in relation to children whose expected week of birth starts on or after 5 April 2015, or who are placed for adoption on or after that date.
The new provisions are set out in the Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014 and the Statutory Shared Parental Pay (General) Regulations 2014, both of which came into force on 1 December 2014. There are complex conditions which need to be satisfied for an employee to have an entitlement to shared parental leave and pay but, broadly, the new regime allows parents to share the maternity leave and pay which previously applied to the mother.
Pension rights during shared parental leave apply in a similar way to those which apply for other periods of paid family leave, in that:
- the employer pays pension contributions as a percentage of normal pensionable salary;
- the employee pays contributions on the basis of the amount of pay actually received;
- benefits continue to accrue during the period of paid shared parental leave; and
- service is continuous but it is possible to exclude any period of unpaid shared parental leave.
The entitlement to additional paternity leave is repealed on the introduction of these new, shared rights.
Trustees of DB schemes should conduct a review of their rules and make any necessary amendments to reflect the new shared parental rights.