The Government is reforming the statutory pay and leave entitlements available to employed parents. From next year, a new entitlement to Shared Parental Leave and Pay (SPL) will be introduced. This will give parents more flexibility in the way they share leave and pay between them. Where relevant, employers will need to update their payroll systems to accommodate making statutory parental payments to employees taking SPL. And to enable these payments to be paid discontinuously, if necessary.
The current entitlement to statutory maternity/adoption leave is 52 weeks (39 paid) and two week’s statutory paternity leave and pay. This all unchanged. What is new is that working parents of a baby due on or after 5 April 2015 may be eligible to take SPL.
Under SPL, mothers (or adopters) will be able to choose to end their maternity/adoption leave and pay early - at any point from two weeks after the birth/placement - and share their untaken pay and leave with their partner.
The idea is to give families greater choice over their childcare arrangements in the first year. It no longer has to be a year for mum and two weeks for dad. It’s intended to enable fathers to take a greater role in caring for a child, and to help both parents to better balance childcare responsibilities with staying in work.
Parents will be able to take their leave in phases, for example 20 weeks for the mother/adopter, followed by 20 weeks for the father/partner, followed by 10 weeks for the mother/adopter. So statutory parental pay could be paid over one or two discontinuous periods.
We expect employers to start getting notifications of intention to take SPL from February 2015. We will provide online tools to check eligibility.