Shared Parental Leave Guide

Carol Smith

Carol Smith

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06 Feb 2019

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Shared parental leave (SPL) is a useful tool to help reduce your organisation’s gender pay gap, as well as bolster the overall wellbeing of your staff.

But what is it, and how should you promote and utilise it?

What is shared parental leave?

It’s a scheme that allows eligible employees to choose how to share their time off work following the birth or adoption of a child.

Shared parental leave in the UK allows parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave, and up to 37 weeks of pay. The leave (and pay) are flexible, meaning parents can take an equal amount of time off, or divide it up into 3 separate blocks of leave each.

You can choose to be even more flexible than this if you wish, but that’s at your discretion.

How does shared parental leave work?

The eligible staff members share up to 50 weeks of leave within the first year after their child is born (or adopted).

Parents can choose to take the leave separately or together.

They can also split the time, or stagger leave and pay.

For them to be able to get SPL in the first place however, they must meet the eligibility criteria as set out by UK shared parental leave regulations.

If the employees applying for SPL are birth parents, then they must:

  • Share responsibility for the child at the time of birth.
  • Meet work and pay criteria.

What is the work and pay criteria?

If you employ both parents, and they reach 26 weeks of employment by the end of the 15th week before the due date then they are eligible for Shared Parental Pay.

They must also:

  • Remain with you while they take SPL.
  • Be ‘employees’ and not ‘workers’.
  • Earn on average a minimum of £116 a week (£148.68 from April 2019).

Finally, to be truly eligible they must provide you with notice at least eight weeks prior to the leave date. 

How do you work out shared parental leave pay?

It’s actually quite simple. Statutory Shared Parental Pay is £145.18 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, (whichever is lower).

If the mother decides to stop their maternity pay or allowance before their full entitlement is up, they may claim SSPP for the remaining weeks. The maximum pay period is 39 weeks. 

Shared parental leave calculator

If you’re still uncertain how much you need to pay your employees for SMP, paternity pay, adoption pay, or SSPP, then you can use the Government Maternity, Adoption & Paternity Calculator.

Prior to using this, you should have the following information at hand:

  • Baby’s due date.
  • Date of Birth (paternity).
  • Employees salary details.
  • Dates of adoption, (match date and date of placement).

Drafting a shared parental leave policy

Maternity allowance is a payment, whereas shared parental leave is time off. Having maternity policies in place does not mean you have, by extension, an SPL policy.

Another element to consider is the fact that there have been cases where employees taking shared parental leave face discrimination.

Your policy should ensure that anyone taking SPL does not have to deal with discrimination, harassment or bullying, and if they do, they have the correct procedures in place to protect them.

Some vital elements to include in your SPL policy are:

  • A breakdown of what shared parental leave is.
  • Eligibility.
  • Entitlement to leave.
  • Employee notice.
  • Shared parental pay entitlement.
  • Terms and conditions.
  • Keeping in touch during leave.
  • Return to work.
  • Special circumstances.

For that extra bit of support…

Parental leave of any kind is a sensitive topic. Avoiding heightened emotions during this period is crucial to having a constructive conversation.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to avoid having uncomfortable conversations. Fortunately, that’s where Croner comes in!

If you’re facing a tricky leave-related situation, you might think you’re alone in facing it, but Croner have faced every conceivable scenario before.

Our advisors have a directory of shared parental leave example scenarios to hand that cover all issues, to ensure you are in good hands. Get in touch with us today on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Carol Smith

Carol joined Croner in 2001 as an Employment Consultant advising a wide range of clients on all aspects of Employment Law and HR practice. She demonstrates particular expertise in complex disciplinary, grievance matters and reorganisation / redundancy.

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Carol Smith

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