• Heidi Thompson
  • 25 November 2014

Are you ready for the introduction of shared parental leave regulations?

On Monday 1 December 2014, new shared parental leave legislation will come into force meaning parents whose children are due to be born or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015, and who satisfy eligibility criteria related to their working status, will have access to a fully flexible system of parental leave.

Shared parental leave will enable eligible mothers, fathers, partners (including same sex) and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed for adoption.

Shared parental leave can be taken in a more flexible way than maternity leave with parents being able to take a single continuous period or block periods of leave and both parents can be absent from work at the same time.

Here are a few key points to be aware of:

  • Employed mothers will continue to be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave and 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance.
  • If they choose to do so, an eligible mother can end her maternity leave early and, with her partner or the child’s father, opt for the shared parental leave instead of maternity leave. If they both meet the qualifying requirements, they will then need to decide how they want to divide their shared parental leave and pay entitlement.
  • Paid paternity leave of two weeks will continue to be available to fathers and a mother’s or adopter’s partner, but additional paternity leave will be removed and shared parental leave will replace it.
  • Adopters will have the same rights as other parents to Shared Parental leave and pay.

It is important employers fully understand their duties prior to these new regulations coming into effect next week, and we spoke to our HR Consultant, Heidi Thompson, to ask her where organisations might struggle most in the coming months and what they can do to ease these fears.

”This is a significant change for employers and at first the legislation can appear very complex with respect to eligibility and process. In addition, employers need to consider the potential impact, likely take up and demographics of their organisation. A new policy and supporting forms would then need to be produced with some initial key questions in terms of collation of evidence and payment terms. It is likely employees will also be confused regarding the new rights and will also need guidance in the early stages.”

Heidi added:

“It seems that at this stage, very few employers have considered or are fully prepared for what could be a significant change for many, which is not surprising due to the complexity involved. If you would like any advice regarding the legislation, processes or production of policies, then please do get in touch with International Workplace.”