In March 2014 draft regulations to implement the new shared parental leave right (due to apply to births from April 2015) were published for consultation. They were heavily criticised by commentators for their complexity, in particular the numerous notifications that employees must give to exercise their rights. Hopes of a change in approach in response to those views have been dashed. The Government has now published revised drafts which simplify the drafting in a few areas and clarify a few points of detail, but basically retain the complex system of notices as it was. The drafts will now be reviewed by Parliament, but the framework is unlikely to change substantially. BIS has promised guidance and precedent notices and it is to be hoped that these will be published soon to assist employers in starting to update their policies.
The revised draft regulations provide that they will come into force on 1 December 2014, rather than 1 October. This means that the protection from detriment and unfair dismissal, for exercising the rights or because the employer believes the employee is likely to take shared parental leave, will not apply until 1 December.
The regulations pulbished are the draft Shared Parental Leave Regulations, Maternity and Adoption Leave (Curtailment of Statutory Rights to Leave) Regulations and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (General) Regulations. The draft Explanatory Memorandum confirms that there will be further sets of regulations on the curtailment of statutory maternity pay, statutory adoption pay and maternity allowance pay periods, adoption leave for intended parents in surrogacy and prospective adopters, shared parental leave and pay for these groups and for adoptions from overseas, as well as changes to the nature of statutory adoption pay and in increase in the age of a child from 5 to 18 years for the parent to be entitled to unpaid parental leave.