Dads’ FAQ: Shared parental leave

13 October 2014

Shared Parental Leave is a new right that will give eligible dads and mums (see below for more details on eligibility) more choice over how to share the earning and caring after their child is born (or placed with them through adoption).

The regulations that will bring in SPL are due to come into force on 1 December 2014, with parents being allowed to use the new Shared Parental Leave rights if their baby is due to be born on or after 5 April 2015, or for children who are placed for adoption on or after that date.

Are we eligible?

To be eligible, a mother must be entitled to maternity or adoption leave, or statutory maternity or adoption pay or maternity allowance and must share the main responsibility for caring for the child with the child’s father or her partner. In addition, they will be required to follow a two step process to establish eligibility.

Step 1 – Continuity test:

A parent seeking to take Shared Parental Leave must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the week in which the child is due (or at the week in which an adopter was notified of having been matched with a child or adoption) and is still employed in the first week that Shared Parental Leave is to be take.

The other parent has to have worked for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to the due date and have earned above the maternity allowance threshold of £30 a week in 13 of the 66 weeks.

Step 2 – Individual eligibility for pay:

To qualify for Shared Parental Pay the parent must, as well as passing the continuity test, also have earned an average salary of the lower earnings limit or more (currently £111) for the 8 weeks’ prior to the 15th week before the EWC.

Parents will be able to choose to opt into Shared Parental Leave at any time, so long as there is some untaken maternity leave to share.

How do we apply?

An employee opting for Shared Parental Leave must notify his or her employer of their entitlement to Shared Parental Leave and must “book” the leave they wish to take, giving their employer at least 8 weeks’ notice. Each eligible employee can give their employer up to 3 separate notices. Each notice can be for a block of leave, or the notice may be for a pattern of “discontinuous” leave involving different periods of leave. If you ask for discontinuous blocks of leave in a notification your employer can refuse and require that the total weeks of leave in the notice to be taken in a single continuous block. However, if your notification is for a continuous block of leave, the employer is required to agree. So it will be beneficial for both you and your employer to discuss and attempt to agree the way in which the different blocks of leave can be taken.

If you wish to take Shared Parental Leave you must provide your employer with a notice of entitlement to take Shared Parental Leave. The notice must be given at least eight weeks before the start of a period of Shared Parental Leave. Each parent entitled and intending to take Shared Parental Leave must give their employer a notice which must include:

  • How much leave is available
  • How much leave they are entitled to take
  • How much leave the parent is intending to take
  • How they expect to take it

Any notice to book Shared Parental Leave must be given at least eight weeks before the leave is due to start.

How much will I be paid?

That will vary by employer. Some employers have said they will offer enhanced pay to mums and dads taking SPL in the same way they would for women taking maternity leave….others will only pay the statutory minimum. Read more in our blog.

How do I find out more?

ACAS has produced a useful guide to SPL, which includes lots of information for employees and employers about eligibility and more details on how to apply.

The TUC has also published a ‘Know Your Rights’ booklet called Leave and pay for fathers and partners.

You can also find out more on the Government website.

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