Shared parental leave might feel like something for April 2015, but it is already having an impact on employers. We set out the key dates for HR professionals.
Under the new shared parental leave rules, mothers can end their maternity leave early and share most of that leave with their partner, with the option of taking leave at the same time. There are similar rules for couples who are adopting.
September 2014: While it could be earlier, an employee is likely to let her employer know informally that she is pregnant after her first ultrasound scan at 12 weeks. The first women who will be entitled to benefit from shared parental leave will have informed their employer of their pregnancy from the middle of September 2014.
1 October 2014: From this date, a new right was introduced for prospective fathers, and partners of pregnant women, to take time off to attend two antenatal appointments.
1 December 2014: The Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014 came into force.
21 December 2014: To exercise her right to maternity leave, the employee must, by the end of the 15th week before her expected week of childbirth, give her employer her expected week of childbirth and the date on which she intends her maternity leave to start.
Shared parental leave applies in relation to babies due on or after 5 April 2015, meaning that the first women who will be entitled to benefit from shared parental leave must have informed their employer of their pregnancy by the end of the week beginning 21 December 2014.
Shared parental leave resources
18 January 2015: While women can choose when to start their maternity leave, it cannot begin earlier than the 11th week before the week that the baby is due (unless the baby is born prematurely).
This means that the earliest that an employee whose baby is due on 5 April 2015 can start her maternity leave is 18 January 2015.
8 February 2015: The first employees taking shared parental leave have to have submitted their first curtailment notices (women), or first notices of intention to take shared parental leave (men), by around this time.
A woman who wishes to curtail her maternity leave to allow her partner to take shared parental leave has to give her employer eight weeks’ notice, while her partner also has to give their employer eight weeks’ notice to take shared parental leave.
A woman who is due to give birth on 5 April 2015 and wants to curtail her maternity leave from 19 April 2015 (the end of her compulsory maternity leave period) would have to have given her curtailment notice by 8 February 2015.
15 March 2015: The shared parental leave regulations apply for babies due on after 5 April but it should be remembered that around one in 14 babies in England and Wales is born prematurely, in other words before the 37th week of pregnancy. Employers should be aware that a proportion of staff will be able to take their shared parental leave earlier than the majority of eligible parents.
5 April 2015: Shared parental leave applies in relation to babies due on or after this date. Similar arrangements apply for adoptive parents, in relation to children who have been matched for adoption or placed for adoption on or after this date.
Various changes to adoption leave and pay are introduced as follows:
- statutory adoption pay is brought into line with statutory maternity pay by setting it at 90% of normal earnings for the first six weeks;
- the right is introduced for prospective adoptive parents to take time off before the adoption to have contact with the child; and
- entitlement to adoption leave and pay is introduced for parents in surrogacy arrangements.
19 April 2015: A woman cannot cut short her two-week compulsory maternity leave period to allow her partner to take shared parental leave during this time. This means that 19 April 2015 is the earliest date on which a woman who gives birth on 5 April 2015 can take shared parental leave.
27 March 2016: The final week that a parent with an expected week of child of birth of 5 April 2015, can opt to take shared parental leave.