What Employers Need To Know About Maternity Leave And Shared Parental Leave

As a new or small business you may not yet have had to deal with maternity leave and shared parental leave, but this article from aspire cambridge will give you an insight into what you need to know about maternity and shared parental leave. This means that if and when the matter arises, you are already prepared.

Length of Maternity Leave

It doesn’t matter how long an employee has worked for you, the entitlement of maternity leave is up to 52 weeks, however the employee must give you notice of at least 15 weeks before the child is expected to be born. The 52 weeks of maternity leave includes 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave during which time the employees job must be left open, and a further 26 weeks of additional maternity leave, it is the choice of the employee if they opt for this additional maternity leave and if it is not practical for you, as a business, to keep their job open for the additional 26 weeks the employee must still be offered similar employment when they return to work.

After making you aware of their expected maternity leave, you have 28 days to write a letter to the employee confirming the expected maternity leave and when you expect to see them back at work. Your employee must then give 8 weeks’ notice if they wish to change this, where possible – sometimes babies come along unexpectedly!.

Keep In Touch Days

Keep In Touch days, also known as KIT days, can be of great benefit to the employer and the employee, employees can take up to ten KIT days and this is a chance to catch up on what they have missed while they were away, days for meetings, training and even conferences. The KIT days must be used whilst the employee is still on maternity leave.

Maternity Pay

If the employee has been employed for at least 26 weeks at the 15th week of confinement they are entitled to statutory maternity pay; this is paid for 39 weeks. The first six weeks of the maternity leave is paid at 90% of the employees’ average weekly earnings. The following 33 weeks are then paid at 90% of the employees’ weekly earnings or at Statutory Maternity pay rate; whichever is lower.

If an employee working for you does not qualify for statutory maternity pay then they can apply for Maternity Allowance from the benefits agency, but they will have to have been employed or self employed for 26 out of the 66 weeks before the date the baby is expected to be born.

Shared Parental Leave

As of the end of 2014 a law was introduced that allows parents to share the maternity/ adoption leave known as shared parental leave.

The mother or adopter must do one of the following:

  • end their maternity or adoption leave by returning to work
  • give you ‘binding notice’ (a decision that can’t normally be changed) of the date when they’ll end their maternity or adoption leave
  • end maternity pay or Maternity Allowance (if they’re not entitled to maternity leave, eg they’re an agency worker or self-employed)

A mother must take a minimum of 2 weeks’ maternity leave following the birth (4 if she works in a factory).

As with the maternity pay, the shared parental pay is 90% of the employees’ average weekly earnings or statutory pay; whichever is lower.

Shared parental leave in touch (SPLIT) days

Your employee can work up to 20 days during SPL without bringing it to an end. These are called ‘shared parental leave in touch’ (or SPLIT) days.

These days are in addition to the 10 ‘keeping in touch’ (or KIT) days already available to those on maternity or adoption leave.

Keeping in touch days are optional – both you and your employee must agree to them.

Want to know more about maternity pay or shared parental leave? Need help putting a policy together or want reassurance you are advising your employees correctly? Then our HR Consultants are only a phone call away – 01223 855441.