Pre-term Births Could Induce Early Parental Leave

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17 Dec 2014

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  The much talked about Shared Parental Leave Regulations (SPL), which were published this week, could occur much earlier than expected if pregnant employees have their baby prematurely, warns HR experts at Croner. Croner, part of global information services business, Wolters Kluwer, is advising businesses to prepare themselves as this new law could affect them as early as December. Liz Iles, Croner Senior Employment Consultant at Wolters Kluwer, says: “It is widely understood that that this law only applies to those babies born on, or after 5 April 2015. However, babies expected on or after this date may well be born early and if substantially early they may be born live from December onwards. “What this means is that while the majority of employees will not be looking to take up this right until next year, some, in the minority, way well be entitled to SPL sooner rather than later. Employers need to be prepared for this; not only from a contractual perspective, but also practically, should they be faced with a request for this leave early.” Croner has highlighted the main points of the new legislation that employers should be aware of:

  • Eligible employees (mothers, fathers, adopters or their partners) will be entitled to shared parental leave and pay in the first year of their child’s life (or first year after placement for adoption)
  • Women will continue to be eligible for statutory maternity leave and pay (or maternity allowance), but they must serve notice to end their period of maternity leave and pay early to share any untaken leave and pay with their partner.
  • Under the new system, parents or adopters will be able to intersperse periods of leave and work, or both parents may take leave concurrently. In addition, prospective parents in surrogacy and “foster to adopt” arrangements will become eligible for statutory adoption leave and pay, and for shared parental leave and pay, subject to meeting the relevant qualifying criteria.
  • The total amount of shared parental leave that will be available is 52 weeks (the total period of maternity leave) less the compulsory period of maternity leave and any other period of time the mother has spent on maternity leave.
  • Eligible employees must provide their respective employer(s) with their entitlement and intention to take shared parental leave in writing at least eight weeks before the first period of leave.
  • Where an employer receives notification of an intention to take shared parental leave, it may, within 14 days of the date on which the notice was given, request a copy of the child’s birth certificate (or information from the adoption agency confirming the matching date) and the name and address of the partner’s employer. The employee then has 14 days in which to respond to that request.
  • Employees intending to request a period of SPL can notify that this leave is either a continuous block of leave, or a number of discontinuous blocks of leave.
  • Continuous leave is an unbroken period of leave. Eligible employees have a statutory right to take leave in this way and the employer has no right to refuse this request.
  • Discontinuous leave is a period of leave which spans over a period of time, with breaks between leave where the employee returns to work. Discontinuous periods of leave in a single leave notice can only be taken with the employers’ agreement and is only likely to be accepted where the business needs allow.

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