Are you ready for Shared Parental Leave (aka sharing maternity leave between Mum and Dad)?
Shared Parental Leave came into operation in the UK in December 2014, and will have an impact on employees who are due to have children or adopt from 5th April 2015.
All clients have had their policies changed and forms updated, but for those readers who are not clients if you have members of staff that are planning on starting a family, or are thinking about doing so in the not-too-distant future, it’s likely that you’ll receive questions about how this will work on a really practical basis. Here’s exactly what you need to know about the changes and the implications for your business.
What exactly do these changes mean?
For babies born or adopted from 5th parents will have the right to split statutory leave between themselves as they choose. It’s a brand new rule that is likely to be confusing for most employers, so it pays to take a little time to consider exactly what it means.
The mother will have to take two weeks after the birth (or four weeks if she’s a factory worker), but there will be the freedom for parents to then decide how the remaining leave is split. Eight weeks of notice must be given, and the leave can be taken in turn or together. Parents will have the right to request on-and-off blocks (so, for example, they may decide that they wish to take a month on and then a month off, and alternate this so there is always the mother or the father at home with the baby during the course of the statutory leave), though employers do not have to comply with this request.
The mother will be the only parent entitled to six weeks at 90% of their salary payment, with remaining leave paid at the statutory rate. This is currently £138.18, or 90% of average weekly earnings – whichever is lower.
For employees to be eligible to benefit from the new right, both parents must meet the eligibility criteria. Generally speaking, they both must have been employed for at least 26 weeks with their current employer.
As a business owner, what do I need to do next?
Okay, so that’s the legal stuff that you need to be aware of. Next, you need to make sure that your business is ready for this change. This is what you need to do:
- Update your maternity and paternity policies so they take into account these changes
- Make sure that your employees are fully aware of their own responsibilities in light of these policies – for example, the notice that they should give
- Make it clear that all existing contractual rights will still apply for staff who take advantage of the changes, except normal pay. For example, staff will still receive holiday entitlement and pension contributions
- Ensure your employees know their rights when it comes to returning to work. If their period of absence has been less than 26 weeks, they have the right to return to the same position. It’s also wise to consider the practicalities – how will they be brought up to speed with what happened with their projects whilst they were away, for example?
- Make sure your line managers are fully onboard and up to date. Many will be worried about the administrative burden, so it’s vital that you’re there to answer their queries and lead the way
Shared Parental Leave offers a brilliant opportunity for employers and individuals alike, and it allows businesses to be supportive of staff members who wish to take time out to start a family.
Are you fully embracing this in your business?
As always if this is something you do not want to have to work your way through on your own, give us a call on 01536 215240 and one of the team will be happy to help you.