The Government has published new draft regulations relating to family-friendly rights, and Acas has published a guide for navigating the new right to shared parental leave.

Parental leave for parents of children aged 18 and under

The existing parental leave regime is to be extended to parents of children aged between 5 and 18. This will come into effect on 5 April 2015. At present, only parents of children aged 5 and under can take such leave, which is currently a maximum of 18 weeks that is limited to four weeks per year.

“Fostering for adoption” placements now included in definition of adoption

Another change occurring from 5 April 2015 is the extension of current rights to adoption leave to individuals fostering a child under the “Fostering for Adoption” scheme run by local authorities.

Extending shared parental leave to couples adopting a child from outside the UK

 By the 5 April 2015, couples who are adopting a child from outside the UK will also have the right to shared parental leave and pay.

Parents of a child born to a surrogate mother

By 1 December 2014, there will be various new rights for the intended parents of a child born  to a surrogate mother. They apply to paternity, adoption and shared parental leave and shared parental pay for couples who apply, or intend to apply, for a parental order under section 54 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (relating to surrogacy and artificial insemination). As the result of such an order, a child born to a surrogate mother will be treated as the couple’s own child.

Acas guide to navigating the new right to shared parental leave

The new Acas guide explains:

  • Eligibility for shared parental leave, and how the process will work,
  • The steps which employers and employees should take where employees wish to exercise their right, and
  • Discrete points, such as what happens when a baby is born early, and what happens to annual leave during shared parental leave.

The guide also provides scenarios to illustrate how shared parental leave will work in practice.