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Shared parental leave – are you prepared for 1st December?

In September, we looked at a new right to unpaid leave to accompany mothers on antenatal visits. We’re now marking 1st of December 2014 in the calendar, as that’s when new statutory provisions on shared parental leave (SPL) will come into force. These rules will entitle new parents to “share a pot of leave” between them following the birth of their child. Adoptive parents will also be able to rely on these rights following the placement of a child with them.
 As ACAS points out, “SPL enables parents to share the caring responsibilities evenly or have one parent taking the main caring role, depending on their preferences and circumstances.”
The new regime will apply to children who are due to be born, or placed with their adoptive parents, on or after 5 April 2015. Employers can expect to start to receive notices of eligibility and intention to take shared parental leave from their employees from January 2015.
 The big difference between SPL and traditional maternity/adoption leave is that eligible employees can “stop and start”: the regulations provide for “discontinuous” and “continuous” leave arrangements. This may represent challenges for employers looking to put in place consistent staff cover.
Here are some of the key points:

the mother must take the first two weeks following childbirth, but the remaining 50 weeks’ leave (and 37 weeks’ pay) can be shared;

employees must give no less than eight weeks’ notice before the commencement of the intended leave;

the employer can refuse to grant discontinuous leave.

ACAS has produced a helpful “Good Practice” guide to assist employers in planning for these important changes.  You can access the ACAS guide here.
ACAS also recommend that, as soon as employers become aware of a relevant pregnancy or adoption placement, they initiate an informal consultation with the employee to talk through the options available.
Employers will want to develop policies and procedures that set out the rules for applying for and taking Shared Parental Leave for their organisation.
If you need assistance with this, or advice on any other aspect of family-friendly workplace policy, don’t hesitate to contact our team.
For further information or to discuss any issues relating to shared parental leave, please contact Robert Holland or any of the Employment team at Balfour+Manson.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article site are soley those of the original authors and other contributors and do not purport to give specific legal advice.
Also in this month’s employment law MATTERS:

Holiday pay

Sex discrimination based on unequal paternity/maternity pay

The latest Tribunal case on a Facebook-related dismissal

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