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Shared Parental Leave

The new Shared Parental Leave system is now up and running.  Although it will only apply in respect of babies due on or after 5 April 2015 or due to be adopted on or after 5 April 2015 it represents a big change in the way that people are able to care for their children in the first year, and will take some getting used to. Intended to mark a move away from a gender-based and inflexible approach to childcare, the motivation behind the introduction of SPL and pay is giving working parents more choice as to how they care for their child in the first year after the child’s birth.

In brief, if she wishes, an eligible mother will be able to end her maternity leave early and, along with her partner or the child’s father, will be able to take Shared Parental Leave (SPL) instead of maternity leave. If they both meet the qualifying requirements and decide to take SPL, they will need to decide how to divide their SPL and Shared Parental Pay between them.

Even though employees cannot take SPL until April 2015, employers could start to receive notices of eligibility and the intention to take SPL from January onwards and so employers need to be up to date with these changes.  On the Simply–Docs website, we have a Shared Parental Leave Policy and Guidance Notes on Shared Parental Leave as well as a variety of notices, letters and declarations to help employers and employees manage the whole SPL process as efficiently as possible.

Looking at SPL in more detail throws up some interesting scenarios, here are two that we have thought of:

– Statistically, up to 20% of couples meet at work. This means that with the introduction of SPL and employees’ ability to share SPL at the same time, an employer potentially could have two employees off at the same time rather than one;

– You may have an employee whose partner is self-employed and due to their self-employed status they can’t take the SPL themselves. However, if the self-employed partner meets the employment and earnings requirements, your employee may             still   qualify for SPL.

We would be very interested to hear how you think SPL is likely to impact your business.

By Iain Mackintosh

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