Shared parental leave now in force

The new system for shared parental leave came into effect on 5 April. The idea of the new system is to allow working parents to share the responsibility of taking care of their newborn or newly adopted child.
Working parents whose baby is due on or after 5 April or who adopt a child on or after that date may be eligible for shared parental leave (SPL) and shared parental pay (ShPP). They can share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay within the first year of their child’s life or adoption.The main points are:

  • SPL does not replace statutory maternity leave/pay or statutory paternity leave/pay, although additional paternity leave/pay has now been replaced by SPL
  • The mother must end her maternity leave and pay in order for her partner to be eligible for SPL/ShPP
  • In the case of adoption, adoption leave and pay must be ended in order to be eligible
  • SPL can be used in blocks rather than all in one go
  • Parents will be able to choose to either take time off at the same time or separately.

SPL poses a number of difficult issues for employers such as how to manage discontinuous leave requests; how to communicate with the other employer regarding the shared leave entitlement; issues  with respect to pension auto-enrolment; and RTI reporting to HMRC. A clear understanding of how SPL works is therefore essential for employers, as is having a shared parental leave policy in place so that managers understand how to deal with applications for shared parental leave.  A basic overview of how SPL works can be found at https://www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay.

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