This arrives in April 2015 and the intention is to enable families more choice with how they look after their children in the first year. The rules for maternity leave and pay, and ordinary paternity leave and pay, will remain the same. Additional paternity pay and leave will be abolished. The arrangement for recovery of statutory payments through HMRC will be the same as current arrangements.
The other change is to bring Adoption Leave into line with Maternity Leave. Statutory Adoption Pay is also being brought into line with Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). Shared parental leave and pay will also be available to adopting parents.
• There will still be a ‘Continuity of Employment Test’ to apply for the mother to establish whether she is eligible for Shared Parental Leave (SPL), but if she qualifies for Statutory Maternity Leave it is likely she will be eligible. Equally the eligibility for shared parental pay is much the same as for SMP.
• For the partner there is an “employment and earnings test” to establish eligibility for SPL. Both partners must qualify for SPL to be taken, and there are various definitions for the ‘partner’.
• Maternity leave is ended to create SPL.
• Share parental pay can be taken based upon criteria similar to those for SMP, the employee receiving the pay must qualify.
• Employees must give at least eight week notice of their intent, and they are allowed to take the leave in three blocks, of a minimum of 1 week at a time.
• The Leave can be spread out in discontinuous portions and the amount of leave available is the balance remaining from 52 weeks, after the maternity/adoption leave taken has been accounted for.
• Employees and Employers can arrange more than three blocks if they wish but this is by mutual consent.
• ‘KIT’ days are available with Maternity Leave, there will be 20 ‘SPLIT’ days available for each partner with SPL. SPLIT is Share Parental Leave In Touch and these are days where an employee can return to work without affected their SPL eligibility.
• Shared parental pay is at 90% of employee’s earnings, or £138.18 per week, whichever is lower
• It is possible for parents to take SPL at the same time, so be off with child together, but Maternity Leave cannot be ended until 2 weeks after the child is born.
It is fair to say that the rules are fairly complex, and although we do not expect a huge take up, we expect employees will be dealt with on a case by case basis. More information can be found here, and ACAS has guidance on how employers should structure and conduct meetings