Information for employers on shared parental leave
Many of your employees will be parents, “parents-to-be” or aspiring parents. Maternity and, in more recent years, paternity leave is something all business owners need to deal with, despite possible disruptions to business operations. Shared parental leave (SPL) will be available to many employees from April 2015 to give more flexibility to families in their child’s first year. It’s important as an employer you know the facts and what you need to do to fulfil your obligations.
Why not download our Handy Helpsheet – Shared Parental Leave – Notes for employers
Shared parental leave (SPL) and shared parental pay (ShPP)
There is a current entitlement of 52 weeks for statutory maternity leave, 39 of which are paid. Statutory paternity leave and pay is just 2 weeks.
However, from 5 April 2015, there will be new legislation allowing eligible mothers-to-be who are in employment and whose babies are due on or after 5 April 2015, the option to share their maternity leave and statutory maternity pay (SMP) with the child’s father or their partner, if also eligible.
These changes are being introduced to create flexibilty in how families choose to care for their child in the first year.
As with everything though, terms do apply and not everyone is eligible.
Who is eligible for SPL and ShPP?
In the first instance, the mother has to be eligible for maternity leave or maternity pay before SPL can be considered.
For your employee to be eligible they must:
- Have worked for you for 26 weeks, continuously, by the end of the 15th week prior to the due date – (yes, it takes a bit of working out with a calendar to hand!)
- Still be employed whilst taking SPL
As an employer, it is within your rights to refuse SPL if the criteria aren’t met although many employers opt to try to find a solution.
How SPL works, practically
If your employee is eligible then the mother can choose to end their maternity leave early and share the rest with the father or their partner.
For example, a mother could use 12 weeks of the 52-week maternity allowance, leaving 40 to share under SPL.
Mothers must take a minimum of two weeks maternity leave, leaving a potential 50 to share under SPL. Similarly, they must take a minimum of 2 weeks maternity pay, leaving a potential 37 weeks to share under ShPP.
ShPP is currently the lower of £138.18 per week or 90% of the average weekly earnings.
Booking blocks of leave
Parental leave can be taken in one block (i.e. the father takes 20 weeks then the mother takes 20 weeks, say) or split into a maximum of three separate blocks. For example, a mother could use her 20 weeks in two blocks of 10 weeks.
SPL can be taken together or separately but the employee needs to give a minimum of eight weeks notice before the start of a block of leave.
Splitting blocks of leave
The employee can also request that the block of leave is split further, so for example, a 10 week block could be worked in alternate weeks, essentially with the mother and father working “one week on, one week off”.
What do employers need to do?
Employers will need to update their payroll systems to reflect the changes, especially as maternity pay may be fragmented under SPL.
In addition, for HMRC, records must be kept for a minimum of three years from the end of the relevant tax year. This includes:
- Evidence of eligibility for ShPP
- The date ShPP commenced
- ShPP payments and the amounts reclaimed
- Unpaid weeks with a reason why
Quick summary of points
From February 2015, employees will start to make requests for SPL, so get ready!
If you are an employer who needs more information on SPL and ShPP contact Figurit who can help with explainging the facts and figures.
- SPL is available from 5 April 2015, allowing parents to share the maternity leave and pay, where both are eligible
- Babies must be due on or after 5 April 2015 to apply
- SPL must be taken in full by the child’s first birthday
- SPL can be taken in blocks, with a maximum of three separate blocks
- Blocks can be split further with the permission of the employer
- ShPP is currently the lower of £138.18 per week or 90% of the average weekly earnings.
- The mother must take a minimum of two weeks maternity leave and maternity pay before switching to SPL or ShPP
- Employers need to keep records for at least three years following the tax year
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