Shared parental leave

The Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA 2014) inserts new provisions into Part 8 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 to introduce a new entitlement for employees who are parents, to take shared parental leave (SPL) in the first year of their child’s life or in the first year after their child’s placement for adoption. The provisions of the CFA 2014 are supported by regulations. The scheme for SPL applies where the expected week of childbirth (EWC) or a child is placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015 Parents will not be obliged to take SPL.  The default position on the birth of a child will be that the 52 weeks of maternity leave (39 weeks paid) will remain in place for the mother, as will compulsory maternity leave, which applies from the day of the child’s birth.  The default position on the adoption of a child will be that the primary adopter will be entitled to 52 weeks of adoption leave (39 weeks paid).  Unless parents qualify for and opt into the SPL scheme the only entitlement that the child’s other parent will have will be two weeks’ ordinary paternity leave and pay. The new scheme will make up to 50 weeks of SPL and 37 weeks of shared parental pay (ShPP) available for eligible parents to take or share (that is, everything other than compulsory maternity leave, or an equivalent two week period in adoption cases).  A mother or primary adopter will be able to end their maternity or adoption leave , or commit to ending it at a future date, and share the untaken leave with the other parent as SPL.  This will enable mothers and primary adopters to return to work before the end of their leave without sacrificing the rest of the leave that would otherwise be available to them.  SPL can be taken consecutively or concurrently, as long as the total time taken does not exceed what is jointly available to the couple.