Shared parental leave does not have to be taken in one consecutive block; employees can stop and start their leave. We continue our series on the new right by answering employers’ questions about discontinuous shared parental leave.
What is discontinuous shared parental leave?
An employee who is eligible for shared parental leave can request to take discontinuous periods of leave. He or she can take a period of shared parental leave, return to work, then take a further period of shared parental leave.
When an employee gives the employer notice of a period of leave, he or she can request either a single block or discontinuous periods of leave.
Shared parental leave webinars
The questions featured here were raised by the audience in Personnel Today’s first shared parental leave webinar this summer.
A second webinar on the topic, which includes a section on discontinuous shared parental leave, takes place on 4 November 2014 – register here to reserve your place.
If the employee requests discontinuous shared parental leave, the employer can refuse the request and require the employee to withdraw the request or take the leave in a continuous block. However, if an employee requests a continuous period of leave, the employer must agree to it.
Employers should note that employees can submit up to three separate leave notices. More information on what constitutes discontinuous shared parental leave is available here.
Can employers refuse all requests for discontinuous shared parental leave?
If an employee requests periods of discontinuous shared parental leave, the employer can refuse the request and require the employee to withdraw the request or take the leave in a continuous block.
An employer may decide to refuse all requests for discontinuous shared parental leave as a matter of policy, to reduce disruption to the business. If an employee wanted to challenge this, he or she may claim that such a policy is discriminatory, in which case the employee would have to show that the policy placed a certain group at a disadvantage when compared with other employees.
However, as an employee can submit up to three separate leave notices, a policy of refusing all requests for discontinuous leave may not be effective in preventing disruption. Further information on having a policy of refusing all requests for discontinuous periods of shared parental leave is available here.
If an employee works in a school, can he or she take periods of shared parental leave during term time and “return to work” during school holidays?
As long as an employee meets the eligibility requirements and gives his or her employer the correct notice, he or she can choose when to take his or her shared parental leave. Find out further information on this scenario.
Can employee reduce their hours over a period, for example by working two days a week and taking shared parental leave three days a week?
No, shared parental leave must be taken in blocks of at least one week at a time. Therefore, an employee could not take shared parental leave in blocks of one or two days to reduce his or her working hours.
However, each parent can agree with their employer to use up to 20 “shared-parental-leave-in-touch” (SPLIT) days to carry out work without bringing a period of shared parental leave to an end. Find out more about SPLIT days here.