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Shared parental leave and pay explained
Welcome to this preview of some of the employmentlaw changes we expect to see during the course of 2015. My name’s Anna Fletcher and I’m adirector in the employment team at Wragge Lawrence Graham. So what’s shared parental leave all about?It’s quite new. It’s quite innovative. Whether it’s taken up obviously remains to be seen.But what we’ve got to bear in mind is that this is still a twintrack approach to familyleave rights. There is nothing in the Shared Parental Leave Regulations that remove anentitlement to statutory maternity leave, nothing that removes rights in relation toadoption leave. And the idea is that this
new regime will run side by side and so parentscan choose whether they decide to opt into this new system. It’s a right available to working parentswhere they will be sharing the responsibility for caring for the child. So it’s applicablein birth situations but also in adoption situations. And it will entitle parents to opt into thesystem and to take up to 52 weeks’ leave. Although what you’ve got to bear in mind isthat these Regulations don’t remove the obligation and the right to compulsory maternity leave,so actually it only leaves in reality 50 weeks of leave to be shared. And because of thattwoweek compulsory period, it also only leaves
37 weeks of pay to be shared. Mothers and fathers or mothers’ partners needto be able to prove that they both satisfy a range of eligibility conditions. So if you’rethe mother and you’re an employee, you have to have continuous service of 26 weeks atthe expected week before the week of childbirth. You also have to have the main responsibilityfor the care of the child and you then need to be able to satisfy the notice requirements. Not only do you have to sign a declarationconfirming your entitlement and confirming that you’ll tell the employer if there area change of circumstances, also your father
or the partner of the mother needs to satisfyand sign a particular declaration. And within that declaration what has to be shown is thatnot only is the father or the mother’s partner going to be sharing the main responsibilityfor the caring of the child with the mother, but they also need to show that they meetanother eligibility test, which is that of the employment and earnings test. Now the employment and earnings test simplymeans that the father or the partner needs to be an employee or what’s known as a selfemployedearner. You have to have worked for 26 weeks out ofthe last 66 weeks and within 13 of those 66
weeks you have to have earned at least Â£30per week. It’s a bit of misnomer really â€“ callingit shared parental leave â€“ because there are, and there will be, situations where theparents may not actually have leave to share. If, for example, the father or the mother’spartner is the employee then they may have a right to shared parental leave if the mothersatisfies various tests including the fact that she is an employee or selfemployed earner.So, in fact, if the mother’s self employed but she meets that selfemployed earner test,then it’s potentially possible for the father to opt for shared parental leave when, ofcourse, the mother in that situation has no
entitlement to statutory maternity leave and,in fact, has no leave to take. Periods of leave can be taken as periods ofcontinuous leave. And if the employee asks for a period of continuous leave, that can’tbe refused by the employer. But employees are entitled to ask for discontinuous periodsof leave. So that means that in effect they can be on shared parental leave and returnto work and go back on shared parental leave. And that’s where it’s so different to thecurrent arrangements in relation to maternity and adoption leave. However, for employers who are concerned aboutdiscontinuous periods of leave and how disruptive