New regulations came into force on the 1 December 2014 concerning shared parental leave and pay. These regulations affect families where a baby is due to be born on or after the 5 April 2015 (or when a child is placed for adoption on or after that date).
These regulations are designed to enable eligible mothers and fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born. It could mean that the mother shares some of the leave with her partner. The whole idea of the regulations is to give parents more flexibility in the first year following birth or adoption.
To qualify a mother must be proposing to share the responsibility of caring for their child with the child’s father or their partner.
For a parent to be eligible to take shared parental leave he or she must be an employee and must pass the continuity of employment test which we set out below. The other parent in the family must meet the employment and earnings test.
The continuity of employment test requires the employee concerned to have worked for the same employer for at least twenty-six weeks at the end of the fifteenth week before the week in which the child is due.
The employment and earning test requires the person concerned to have worked for at least twenty-six weeks in the sixty-six weeks leading up to the due date and have earned above the maternity allowance threshold of £30 a week in thirteen of those sixty-six weeks.
If both parents satisfy the continuity of employment test both will be able to make use of shared parental leave. However, if only one person meets the eligibility criteria for continuity of employment, it may still be possible for a couple to share the shared parental leave if the other partner (who might perhaps be self-employed) can meet the employment and earnings test.
Shared parental leave may be taken at any time within the period which begins on the date the child is born (or placed for adoption) and ends fifty-two weeks after that date. An employee is entitled to submit three separate notices to book leave. Leave must be taken in complete weeks and must be taken in a continuous period or may be split up. An employer cannot refuse continuous periods of leave but may refuse requests for leave to be broken up.
The regulations are quite complex and we are happy to provide further advice on individual cases and assist in completion of the necessary application forms. We can advise employees or employers on these regulations.