Gerry Devine - Practice Manager Adviser

Changes to parental leave

Having a baby can be both a stressful and exciting time for parents, and recent changes to laws regarding parental leave can allow both parents to enjoy the moment more equally as of this year.

Employees with a baby due - or children matched or placed for adoption - after April 5 might be entitled to Shared Parental Leave (SPL) within the first year of the child’s birth or adoption.

Who is eligible?

Firstly, you must be eligible to enjoy the benefits. According to Gov.uk, criteria for Shared Parental Leave include the following:

  • The employee and her partner must already be eligible for maternity allowance, maternity pay/leave or adoption pay/leave.
  • The employee must share care of the child with either: their husband/wife/civil partner or joint adopter, the child’s other parent OR their partner (if they live with the employee and the child.)
  • The employee has to have been continuously employed for 26 weeks out of the 66 before the baby’s due date or the date the employee is matched with the child.
  • The father must have also worked for 26 out of 66 weeks before the baby is due, and have earned at least an average of £30 a week for 13 of those in order to be eligible too.

What are the benefits?

The obvious benefit is that parents can now have time off at the same time to look after and enjoy the arrival of a new child (or matched child) together. The rules also allow both parents to split the leave more equally and give the father a chance to adopt a more caring role. The mother must still take her compulsory two weeks maternity leave after the birth, but the other 50 weeks of leave can be shared out however the parents choose to. 

There is also now the option to split Shared Parental Leave into blocks, whether the employee is sharing the leave with their partner or not. They are entitled to up to three blocks provided that they let the employer know at least eight weeks before each block. However, the employer may allow the employee to split blocks into more and shorter periods at their own discretion.

For more information on the many different options and benefits available to employees, visit Gov.uk 

What should employees do to start Shared Parental Leave?

The mother (or adopter) has to have ended maternity/adoption leave or maternity allowance, giving eight weeks notice. You may then require a copy of the birth certificate and the address of the employee’s partner’s workplace at your own discretion. The written notice from the employee must include:

  • The partner’s name
  • A signed declaration from the partner agreeing to the employee taking Shared Parental Leave and that they satisfy the requirements (must include name, address, National Insurance number).
  • Start and end date for maternity/adoption leave
  • The total amount of Shared Parental Leave available and how much they and their partner are intending to use.
  • Confirmation that childcare is being shared with the partner.

As well as the eight weeks written notice, maternity/adoption leave has to have ended by the mother/adopter returning back to work – but only after the compulsory two weeks maternity leave.

Updating Policies

It is important that you update your policies as the date nears, also establishing details regarding shared pay and enhanced pay.

First Practice Management (FPM) will be compiling a new Shared Parental Leave policy for members, and once completed you will be notified via the bulletin. In the mean time, all information can be viewed on Gov.uk 

In addition to the above, FPM members can obtain further information via the FPM website. Alternatively members can also email specific questions about employment issuesto advice@firstpracticemanagement.co.uk where your question will be treated in confidence and normally answered (by email) within two working days of submission.


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