The Government has published its response to its Consultation on the Administration of Shared Parental Leave and Pay. Under the Government's proposed new system of shared parental leave ("SPL"), which the Government is intending will come into force in 2015, qualifying employees will be entitled to a total of 52 weeks' leave and 39 weeks' statutory pay, (at the same rate as statutory maternity pay), although only mothers will be able to take the initial two week recovery period following child birth. A copy of our previous client alert on SPL can be found HERE.
The key proposals in the response are:
- Mothers who have given notice to end maternity leave before giving birth will have the ability to withdraw their notice in the six week period following birth. Outside of this period, the notice to end maternity leave is binding.
- Parents wishing to take SPL must provide the same information to their employers as under the current additional paternity leave regime (i.e. the names and national insurance numbers of both parents and the total maternity leave and maternity pay or allowance that the mother has taken). In addition, they will also need to provide their employers with their indicated pattern of leave, although this is not binding. Employees must give at least 8 weeks' formal notice to their employers before taking each period of SPL. The eight week notice period will include a two week discussion period with the employer.
- There will be a cap of three notifications that an employee can make to an employer to take a period of SPL, which will include changes to previous notifications. This means that this cap will not however apply to any changes that are mutually agreed between the employer and employee.
- The cut off point for taking SPL will be 52 weeks from birth. This reflects the current arrangements in place for additional paternity leave.
- Employees on SPL can take up to 20 Keeping in Touch ("KIT") style days each. This is separate to the 10 KIT days that an employee on maternity leave can take.
- Employees returning from a period of leave that includes maternity, paternity, adoption and SPL that totals 26 weeks or less in aggregate will be entitled to return to the same job. This applies even if the leave is taken in discontinuous blocks.
- The notice requirement for taking paternity pay will be aligned with the notice requirement for taking paternity leave. This means that notice must be given by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth or as soon as reasonably practicable.
The Government is currently preparing regulations to implement the above proposals. As with any new legislation, the devil will be in the detail and we will report further when the Regulations are published. A copy of the Government's response to the consultation can be found HERE.