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Parental rights extended
ACAS has recently issued guidance for employers regarding the introduction of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) which will come into effect on 1 December 2014. These changes will apply to employees who are adopting, or expecting a child due on or after 5 April 2015. It aims to give families additional flexibility in arranging how they, as a family, wish to respond to their new arrival.
In summary, both parents will share a pot of leave that can be taken at the same time or shared on an alternating basis, or a combination of the two, subject to various qualifications and conditions. Parents who qualify will be entitled to 52 weeks leave which can be taken on a continuous or discontinuous basis.
An employee will qualify for SPL if:
- They have been employed for 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the child is due, or due to be placed in the case of adoption
- They are entitled to statutory maternity/adoption leave
- They have a “partner” (the child’s father, or someone with whom they share primary responsibility for the child at the time of birth or placement)
- In addition the “partner” must have worked for their employer for 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks leading up to the due date, or placement date in the case of adoption. They must have also earned above £30 a week in 13 of those 66 weeks.
An eligible employee must notify their employer at least 8 weeks in advance before they wish to take leave. Employers are unable to refuse a request for continuous leave, however a request for discontinuous leave can be reasonably refused. Practically it will be important for employers to communicate with their employees from very early on in the process.
We advise employers to implement a policy for SPL, either ancillary to or in addition to family friendly policies already implemented in their work places, to ensure their employees are aware of their right to SPL.