From 1st December 2014, Shared Parental Leave will come into force. It will enable mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed for adoption. For example, the mother or adopter could share some leave with a partner, returning to work for a while and then resuming leave in the final months of the year.
Caitlin in 2008
The idea is to give greater flexibility in how to share childcare in the first year following birth or adoption. Basically there will now be one pot of leave available to both parents which they can allocate between them. And, of course, it means that fathers will be able to play a greater role in caring for their children in the first year.
Shared Parental Leave does not replace Maternity and Paternity leave but is a separate option available to those parents who meet the qualifying criteria. This means that a mother would need to end her maternity leave early and opt for Shared Parental Leave instead of Maternity Leave. She would then need to decide how to share her Shared Parental Leave and Pay entitlement with her partner. Maternity Leave is currently 52 weeks of which 39 weeks accrue either statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance. Paid Paternity Leave of two weeks will still be available but it proposed that Shared Parental Leave will eventually replace Additional Paternity Leave.
Qualifying criteria are explained in detail on the ACAS website but will apply for parents where a baby is due to be born on or after 5th April 2015 or for children placed for adoption on or after that date. Employers can start to receive notices of intention to take Shared Parental Leave from January 2015, provided that the qualifying criteria are met - for example you must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the week in which the child is due.
If you think this arrangement may work for you and your partner, now is the time to start researching the new regulations to see if you will be eligible.
For information is available at www.acas.org.uk