Parental Leave to be Shared Between Mother and Father

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The Government has announced it response to the recent consultation on the administration of shared parental leave and pay which is a policy to be introduced under the Children and Families Bill which is currently going through the House of Lords and is anticipated to be implemented by 2015.

It is proposed that eligible mothers and their partners will be able to take up to 52 weeks off work to care for a child, with up to 39 weeks’ shared parental pay. They will either be able to take the leave together or the mother could take a few weeks off and then return to work, allowing her partner to take the balance of the leave. Another alternative is for the couple to take the leave in turns.

Employees will be required to give employers notice of their intention to opt into this scheme and to provide a “non-binding” indication of their proposed pattern of leave. Employees will have to give a minimum of eight weeks’ of any leave to be taken which will include a two-week discussion period with their employer. Employees will be able to give their employer a maximum of three notifications of a period of leave or variation to a previously agreed period of leave.

Further proposals are:
  • a notice to terminate maternity leave to allow the start of shared parental leave will be binding if given prior to the birth of the child but a mother will have six weeks from birth to revoke this binding notice.
  • the cut-off point for couples to take share parental leave will be 52 weeks from the birth of the child.
  • each of the couple will have up to 20 “keeping in touch days” whilst they are on shared parental leave.
  • each of the couple will have the right to return to the same job following any period of share parental leave which in aggregate total 26 weeks or less, irrespective of whether the leave is taken in one block or discontinuous blocks.
We look forward to hearing the Government’s proposals on how this is to be administered.

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