Shared Parental Leave; don’t shoot me, I’m only the messenger!

17 Oct 2014

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) is upon us. It will apply in the case of any child expected to be born on or after 5 April 2015. Make yourself a double espresso, reach for a fresh flaky croissant and here we go:

  • The current regime remains the default option. SPL only applies if the parents opt in.
  • Up to 50 weeks SPL may be shared (the two weeks following birth remain compulsory leave for mother).
  • SPL is taken in complete weeks. It may be requested as a continuous block or in discontinuous blocks (i.e. 6 weeks SPL, 4 weeks work, 6 weeks SPL etc).
  • In a spirit of flexibility SPL may be divided and taken when the parents choose so they don't have to fix their arrangements before the leave begins. Parents using flexibility are required to book SPL 8 weeks in advance. Up to 3 such requests may be made for different blocks of leave (more requests may be made if the employer agrees).
  • If a parent makes 3 separate requests for 3 continuous blocks of leave the employer must allow the requests so the parent will have achieved discontinuous leave – but will have used all his/her requests. However if a parent requests several periods of discontinuous leave in a single request (for instance because the parent is organised and has planned the leave well in advance) the request will be subject to the employer's agreement – so may be refused. In default of agreement the employee is entitled to take the total leave requested but in a single block not discontinuous blocks (thus ensuring nobody's happy).
  • A blanket refusal to consider a complicated web of leave dates will probably be discriminatory. Refusals should be for sound objective business reasons.
  • Parents may share up to 37 weeks Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). Parents must decide how the payments will be divided and they must each inform their employer of this.
  • Employers are responsible for checking employees' eligibility for ShPP.  Incorrect claims (surely not!) may be corrected and overpayments recovered through the payroll.
  • Employers and parents may agree up to 20 SPLIT days (Shared Parental Leave In Touch) and the parties will be free to agree the basis on which these will be paid.

As you'd expect there are a host of technical details concerning eligibility, notice and evidence. As you'd also expect these reveal that BIS has little idea of what’s involved in running a payroll, managing a business or living with a newborn baby. Good Luck!