What is Shared Parental Leave?

Shared Parental Leave is a new right that will enable employees to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed for adoption. This applies to eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters.

Under this new system, currently before parliament, parents will be able to choose how they share the care during the child’s first year after birth. Mothers will still be able to receive the statutory initial two weeks off work following the birth. Following this, the mother can choose to end the maternity leave and the parents can opt to share the remaining leave as flexible shared parental leave.

Furthermore it is proposed that under the new shared parental leave, the husband or partner of the pregnant woman has the right to unpaid time off to attend up to 2 ante-natal appointments.

The new regulations, if introduced, will allow the mother or adopter to share some of the leave with their partner, enabling an earlier return to work for a short period and then resuming leave at a later date.

When is Shared Parental Leave coming into force?

The regulations are currently before parliament and are due to come into force on the 1st December this year. Shared Parental Leave rights are only applicable for parents who meet the eligibility criteria. The main criteria is where a baby is due to be born on or after 5 April 2015

Employers could start to receive notice of eligibility and the intention to take Shared Parental Leave from qualifying employee(s) from January 2015, therefore it is important for companies to be aware and prepare for the eventuality of shared parental leave being requested.

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