As we explained in February, this month will see the first parents exercise their right to Shared Parental Leave (“SPL”). Where the expected week of child birth is on or after 5 April 2015, or where a child is placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015, parents are entitled to “share” up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of shared parental pay.
The rules are fairly complex and there will inevitably be a bedding-in period during which employers, HR and legal professionals attempt to get to grip with the procedure. We have set out below, in brief, the procedure which an employee must follow and how the employer may respond.
Employee’s notice requirements
For a parent who is not the mother or primary adopter to participate in SPL, the mother or primary adopter will need to either return to work or to send their employer a notice stating that they wish for their leave to end (a “curtailment notice”). The curtailment notice must be given at least eight weeks before the date on which they want their leave to end.
Together with the curtailment notice, the mother or primary adopter must send the employer a notice of entitlement and intention to take shared parental leave, or a declaration that their partner has served such a notice. The notice of entitlement and intention should include the start and end dates for each proposed period of leave although it isn’t binding on the employee.
Employer’s right to request information
On receiving the notice of intention to take Shared Parental Leave, the employee may request the child’s birth certificate or, in relation to adoption, documents notifying the primary adopter that the child was to be placed with them. They may also request the name and address of the employee’s partner’s employer.
Employee’s period of leave
At least eight weeks before the start date of their first period of leave, the employee must give the employer a period of leave notice. A notice which requests a single, continuous period of shared parental leave must be granted. However, where the notice proposes two or more blocks of leave, the employer has two weeks to grant or refuse the request, or propose alternatives. If the employee’s request is refused, they may take the requested leave as a single period of leave or they may withdraw the notice and submit another. The employee may submit a maximum of three notices for each birth or adopted child.
It is crucial that employers are ready and able to respond to employee’s requests for SPL to ensure that each request is dealt with in accordance with the correct procedure. If correctly implemented, SPL is likely to contribute to a happy workforce. If handled poorly, employees are likely to become disenfranchised. It is therefore crucial to obtain advice at an early stage in the process.
Our employment team are experienced and have trained in relation to the new law on SPL. We offer seminars for business owners and / or HR departments about the new rules either at you place of work or at our offices on Fetter Lane in London. Do get in contact if you have any questions.