There’s no doubt that the take up of Shared Parental Leave has not been enthusiastic. It is seen as complicated and not always financially beneficial. But what is it all about? How do you qualify? What leave can you share? How much is the Statutory pay? When this scheme first came out, we all wrote policies for our employer clients so that they knew what to do if an enquiry was made. But the number of enquiries about Shared Parental Leave has been relatively small. Maybe we did such a good job that we dealt with the questions before they even came to anyone’s mind.
What’s it all about?
It is a complicated system and that’s partly because it is so flexible with a lot of different combinations and options. First you have to work out if you qualify – there is a continuity of employment test and an employment and earnings test. The Gov.UK page on this topic helps.
The continuity of employment test
At the end of the 15th week before the child’s expected due date/matching (if adoption) the individual has worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks and is still working for the employer at the start of the leave period.
The employment and earnings test
In the 66 weeks leading up to the baby’s expected due date/matching date, the person has worked for at least 26 weeks and earned an average of at least £30 a week in any 13 weeks.
Generally, the system can be used whether the parents are male or female, birth parents or adopters, or a surrogate. If you employ a surrogate you may be entitled, subject to some additional criteria such as being in a couple and being responsible for the child.
Shared Parental Leave can be used by two parents who are either having a baby or adopting a child. So, how much leave can you share? An example is probably the easiest way of tackling this point. If parent 1 takes time off and then wants to go back to work before the end of the 50 weeks leave entitlement, parent 2 can then apply to their employer to take the remainder of that leave. If parent 1 has gone back to work before the end of the entitlement to 37 weeks of Statutory Pay, then parent 2 can elect to take over the entitlement as Shared Parental Pay. There are qualifying requirements for this, and forms to be filled in – if you want to know more please give us a call.
Leave can be taken as a continuous period, or both parents can be on leave together, or you can apply to have blocks of leave interspersed with periods of work. Providing the right amount of notice is given to the employer (at least 8 weeks) and you provide the required information, the employer cannot refuse a request for a continuous period of leave. But, be cautious about requesting multiple blocks of leave, as your employer does not have to agree to this. The employer could ask to modify the request, which would have to be done by agreement and without pressure being applied to the employee. There’s a good section on ‘handling a request..’ on the ACAS website.
How much is Statutory Shared Parental Pay?
I am writing this in February 2019 and the rates are due to increase in April 2019. From 7th April 2019 to April 2020, for the first 6 weeks it is 90% of the normal pay per week, and then for the remaining 31 weeks it is either 90% of normal pay or £148.68 per week, whichever is lower. The same rate applies for Shared Parental Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, and Statutory Adoption Pay.
If you have any questions we are here to untangle this subject for you – give us a call.