The Government has published its response to the consultation about the administration of shared parental leave, due to be introduced in 2015. It has put forward some modifications to the original plans, mainly to make the administration of the scheme easier for employers.

One key concession is the introduction of a limit on the number of times parents are able to revise their plans. They will now be limited to three notifications per child, including the original notification and any revisions to it. Any further changes can only be made with the employer’s agreement.

However the proposals on the right to return will be less welcome to employers. The Government has said that although cut-off point for the right to return to the same job will be fixed at 26 weeks’ total child-related leave, the leave would not need to be taken in one continuous block.

Both parents taking shared leave will be entitled to up to 20 keeping in touch days, up from 10 in the original proposals. These will be in addition to the 10 days already attached to the mother’s maternity leave.

The framework for these new rights is being created in the Children and Families Bill, currently making its way through Parliament. This primary legislation will be supplemented by regulations, which the Government has committed to publishing in draft before the Bill receives Royal Assent.

Despite promises to further harmonise the notification rules applying to the different categories of child-related leave, these new measures will add  considerably to the complexity of interlocking family-related rights. The most recent extension of these rights arrived in April 2011, with the introduction of additional paternity leave. According to a study by the TUC, fewer than 1% of fathers took up this new right in the first year. The Government clearly hopes fathers will be more enthusiastic about its much more ambitious successor.