There’s lots of information being circulated about the Shared Parental Leave Regulations at the moment. They were published in July and will apply to those who are expecting a baby on or after 5 April 2015.

The Regulations actually come into force on 1 December 2014 so we’ll be preparing new policies for all our clients later this year so that they are ready for the change.

We’ll be reviewing the Regulations in more detail in a newsletter soon but in the meantime – for those who are wondering what Shared Parental Leave actually means here’s a quick summary:

Much as there are for maternity pay and paternity leave, there will be eligibility criteria that must be met in order to have the right to shared parental leave.

There will also be a requirement to give notice of any such shared parental leave requests.

Shared parental leave will operate alongside, not replace existing maternity / paternity leave provisions.

Employees will have the right to opt in to be able to share up to 50 weeks of parental leave. This would be instead of not in addition to taking the current amounts of maternity / paternity leave.

The two weeks mandatory maternity leave immediately following the birth of a child will remain in force.

There may be options to take the shared leave in blocks of either continuous or non-continuous time giving parents maximum flexibility. Employers may however in some circumstances be able to refuse requests for leave that is not taken in one continuous block.

There are great benefits to employees who will be able to take a more flexible approach about who stays home as primary child carer, which could be great news for mums wanting or needing to return to work as soon a possible, families where mum is the main income earner, those where dad wants to take a more hands on role in the early years of baby’s life and so on.

For employers, however, we can see this being a complex regulation to comply with & one that might cause a few headaches along the way! As always, we’ll do our very best to make it as easy as possible for our clients to get it right

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