Shared Parental Leave (SPL) came into effect on 15 April 2015 in the UK. It is a new legal entitlement for eligible parents of newly born and/or newly adopted children. It allows for both parents to share the care of the child’s first year without the employees being penalised for using their entitlement or put under pressure to cancel/change a leave notification. The leave can be taken all at one time or can be broken up into three blocks of time. It allows up to 52 weeks of leave time, 50 weeks of SPL and 2 weeks of maternity/adoption leave time. Up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay can be shared between parents.
The rights apply to parents in work, including those who are adopting, same sex couples, co-habiting couples, and couples bringing up a child together even if the baby is from a previous relationship. To take SPL, one parent must have been an employee with at least 26 weeks of service with the same employer by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due, or when matched with an adopted child. The other must have worked for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to the due date and have earned at least £30 a week in the 13 of the 66 weeks. Shared parental leave pay is £139.58 a week or 90% of an employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. Additional rules can be found on the government’s website GOV.uk.
What considerations should be taken?
Some things to take into consideration when deciding whether to take SPL or not include whether both parents qualify and how they will share the care of the child. Is the mother prepared to reduce the maternity/adoption leave? Is there a contractual entitlement to enhanced maternity/adoption/paternity/SPL pay and would reducing the mother’s maternity/adoption leave have an impact on this? What is the availability of other legal rights and how could they work alongside SPL? There are also the wider financial implications to families such as pay and pensions to consider. If SPL is not used right away, parents have the option to use it at a later date while they are still eligible.
What are the benefits of paternity leave?
Fathers who take paternity leave are more likely to take an active role in child- care tasks. Studies have shown that fathers who take paternity leave are more likely to feed, dress, bathe and play with their child long after the period of leave has ended. In Britain, dads who took time off at birth were almost a third more likely to read books with their toddlers than those who hadn’t. A study by the University of Oslo found that paternity leave improved children’s performance at secondary school; daughters especially, seemed to flourish if their dads had taken the time off. SPL allows parents to share responsibilities and ultimately benefits the child.
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If this article has done a good job of explaining what shared parental leave is, what the eligibility criteria are and what considerations need to be taken. In a nutshell; shared parental leave allows parents to share responsibilities which ultimately benefits the child.