Parents of babies born on or after 5 April 2015 will now be entitled to take shared parental leave of up to 52 weeks following the introduction of the Shared Parental Leave Regulations SI 2014/3050. This allows parents to put their leave in a pot, so to speak, and jointly take leave out of the pot, regardless of whether the mother is owed more leave than the father.
Prior to this, fathers were only allowed to take 2 weeks leave as paternity leave, whilst mothers were allowed up to 52 weeks leave. The implementation of these new regulations has abolished additional paternity leave.
In order to be eligible, the mother must be entitled to maternity leave and must give notice of her intention to take shared parental leave. She must provide any evidence required by her employer and give a period of notice. The same rules apply for her partner, who must show that the mother of the child is entitled to maternity leave.
In order to be eligible, the mother’s partner must satisfy a basic eligibility criteria, namely that they must have been employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks by the time the mother reaches the 15th week before the expected due date. This means that if one parent is a stay at home parent, the other parent will not qualify for shared parental leave.
Employers do not have the right to refuse a request for maternity leave if it is a request for a single period of leave. However, for more than 1 period of leave, employers have the right to accept, refuse or negotiate alternative dates with the employee. There is no formal process for considering these requests, and the employer has complete flexibility when it comes to refusing leave.
With regards to pay, statutory maternity pay will still apply. This means the individuals can be paid for up to 39 weeks of the 52 weeks. The first 6 weeks will be paid at 90% of the individual’s average weekly earnings. Following this, the next 33 weeks will be paid at either £138.19 or 90% of their average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.
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