Q: What is Shared Parental Leave?
A: Shared Parental Leave (SPL) is a new legal entitlement that came into place on 5 April 2015, with the purpose of giving parents a choice about who looks after their child in the first year after it is born or adopted.
Q: How does SPL work?
A: Mothers that are already entitled to maternity and adoption rights can now choose to end this early, to be exchanged for Shared Parental Leave and pay. The mother and father are then able to make a decision about how they wish to share this entitlement.
If mothers are eligible for SPL, they will now be able to share up to 50 weeks of maternity leave and 37 weeks of statutory maternity pay, with their partner.
Q: How do we know if we are eligible for SPL?
A: For either parent to be eligible for SPL, they must be employed as an employee and must pass the continuity of employment test. The other partner must pass the employment and earnings test.
Q: What is the continuity of employment test?
A: This is where a parent must have been working for the same employer for at least 26 weeks before the week that the child is due to be born and adopted. They must also still be employed during the first week that SPL is taken.
Q: What is the employment and earnings test?
A: A parent has to have worked a minimum of 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks leading up to the due date of the child’s arrival. They must also have earned above the maternity allowance threshold of £30 per week during 13 of the 66 weeks.
There are also rules which allow self-employed parents to qualify for SPL, for example if the mother is an eligible employee, whilst the father is actively working in a self-employed job.
Q: How should employees request SPL?
A: A mother will need to give a minimum of 8 weeks’ notice to cut short her maternity leave in order to begin SPL. At around the same time (at least 8 weeks before parents would like SPL to begin) both parents must submit a notice of entitlement stating their intention to take SPL and requesting to book this time off.
Q: How flexible is SPL?
A: An important point is that mothers must complete a compulsory 2 weeks of maternity leave before SPL can commence. Fathers should also take their standard paternity leave before SPL is due to start, otherwise they will lose this entitlement as soon as SPL commences.
Q: When can SPL be taken?
A: SPL can be taken in one continuous period of up to 50 weeks, or in up to three separate periods, which can be as short as a week each.
Q: Can employers refuse SPL requests?
A: As long as parents are eligible for SPL and both the mother and father have given the proper notices to their employers within sufficient time, employers are not able to refuse requests for SPL, for leave over a continuous period.
Expert advice about maternity and paternity rights
For legal advice on maternity and paternity rights including leave entitlement, pay and issues around going back to work. Bray & Bray have three main offices across Leicestershire, feel free to phone or pop in to talk to our solicitors.