The recent changes to parental leave rights are explained by Saraka Keating.
A new system of shared parental leave (SPL) in England, Scotland and Wales applies to parents with babies born on or after 5 April 2015, and to adoptions.
Under the new system, parents will be able to choose how they share the care of their child in the first year after birth. While employed mothers will still be entitled to 52 weeks’ maternity leave, working parents will be able to opt to share 50 out of 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave and 37 out of 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay. Mothers will retain two weeks’ mandatory maternity leave and fathers will also have a separate entitlement to two weeks of statutory paternity leave.
Shared parental leave can either be taken by each parent consecutively, or by both parents concurrently, as long as the combined amount of leave does not exceed the amount which is jointly available to the couple. Additional paternity leave and additional paternity pay will be abolished (since fathers will be expected to take the new shared parental leave instead).
To be eligible for SPL, you must have 26 weeks’ continuous service at the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth or the notified week of adoption, and still be employed in the week before SPL is due to start.
Statutory shared parental leave pay will apply for 39 of the 52 weeks (reduced by any element of statutory maternity pay received by the mother).
The first six weeks will be paid at 90 per cent of the average weekly earnings, before tax, of the parent who is on leave.
The regulations are complex and lengthy, and employers will be seeking legal advice in the early days. Members should seek advice from their CSP steward or senior negotiating officer if you are experiencing difficulty getting a request for SPL agreed.
- Saraka Keating is a CSP senior negotiating officer
AuthorSaraka Keating CSP senior negotiating officer
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