Acas launches new guide to shared parental leave

Acas launches shared parental leave guidance - Jo Swinson, business minister
Business minister Jo Swinson: "Dads have a key role to play in the early weeks and months of a baby's life" Photo: REX/Joel Goodman/LNP

The conciliation service Acas has today published a new guide to shared parental leave (SPL).

It aims to help employers and employees navigate their way through the new regulations, which allow couples to share maternity or adoption leave and pay from 5 April 2015.

The guide includes a step-by-step guide on how eligible employees can make a request for shared parental leave.

There is also advice for employers on how to deal with SPL requests fairly.

Stewart Gee, Acas head of guidance, advised employees and employers to start discussions early so that suitable arrangements can be made.

He said: “Our guide was produced with input from large and small employers, family groups and trade unions and is designed to ensure working parents and employers alike can understand the new shared parental leave arrangements.”

“We are also running training courses to help employers prepare for the legal changes.”

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills estimates that there will be around 285,000 working couples eligible to share their leave from April next year.

However, one of the key concerns aired by employers is that shared leave can be taken in blocks, meaning that parents could end up taking periods of discontinuous leave. It is feared that this could lead to a major administrative headache for employers.

Commenting on the launch of the new guide, employment relations minister Jo Swinson said: “Dads have a key role to play in the early weeks and months of a baby’s life and it is right that the arrangements for parental leave should reflect that.”

“Shared parental leave is not only good news for parents-to-be, but for employers who will benefit from having a workforce that is more flexible and motivated.”

Under the new system, a pregnant woman will continue to have access to 52 weeks of maternity leave and 39 weeks of pay as she does currently, but from 5 April, partners will be able to share the leave.

Sarah Jackson, CEO of Working Families, added: “[Shared parental leave] offers employers a way into an early conversation with their working fathers and gives parents the chance to start their family life together, simultaneously on leave.”

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