From 5 April 2015, additional paternity leave and pay will be abolished to be replaced by shared parental leave (SPL).
Employees who are parents will be entitled to SPL in the year following their child’s birth or in the first year after their child’s placement for adoption.
SPL is not obligatory, but it does provide parents with greater flexibility than the current system of maternity leave, ordinary and additional paternity leave. The scheme allows up to 50 weeks of SPL and 37 weeks of Shared Parental Pay for eligible parents to be shared, except the compulsory maternity leave period.
It allows mothers and primary adopters to return to work before the end of their leave, without foregoing the rest of their leave that would have otherwise been available to them. Partners may take the leave at the same time or consecutively, provided the total time does not exceed the statutory allowance.
The scheme also provides for employees to split their leave in up to three blocks in multiples of complete weeks, and with the agreement of their employer it may be more. SPL is available to mothers who are entitled to statutory maternity pay, or maternity allowance. If one parent is unemployed, the scheme may still apply if the other partner is economically active.
The scheme works when a mother, or primary adopter, ends their maternity or adoption leave early, with the untaken leave transferring to their partner. In order to take SPL, the employee must serve their employer with a curtailment notice and entitlement period. The curtailment notice must be given at least eight weeks before the date on which the mother or primary adopter wishes their leave or pay entitlement to end. A curtailment notice must be accompanied by a notice of entitlement, outlining the partner’s intention to take the leave and right to do so.
In addition to the 10 “keeping in touch” days allowed for those on maternity leave, employees may work 20 shared parental leave in touch days without ending the period of SPL.
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