New regulations came into force on 1 December 2014 which apply to eligible parents where a baby is due, or a child is placed for adoption, on or after 5 April 2015 enabling parents flexibility in the way they take their parental leave. If an employee is eligible for Shared Parental Leave they can use it to take leave in blocks separated by periods of work, instead of taking it all in one go. It is very important that employers update their staff handbooks and any new contracts for the changes in this legislation.

Qualifying mothers and adopters continue to be entitled to Maternity and Adoption rights but they may also be able to choose to end this early and exchange it for Shared Parental Leave and Pay. They and their named partner will then need to decide how they want to share this new entitlement. Once the Mother has given notice to end her Statutory Maternity Leave, Shared parental leave can begin, so there can be an overlap of the Mother being on Maternity Leave and the father being on Shared Parental Leave.

Two weeks of paid Paternity Leave continues to be available to qualifying fathers and the partner of a mother or adopter. However, Shared Parental Leave has replaced the Additional Paternity leave entitlement.

An employee must give at least 8 weeks’ notice of any leave they wish to take. If the child is born more than 8 weeks early, this notice period can be shorter. Your employee has a statutory right to a maximum of 3 separate blocks of leave, although you can allow more if you wish.

Shared Parental Leave may be taken at any time within the period which begins on the date the child is born/date of the placement and ends 52 weeks after that date. An employee is entitled to submit three separate notices to book leave. Leave must be taken in complete weeks and may be taken either in a continuous period, which an employer cannot refuse, or in a discontinuous period, which the employer can refuse.

If an employee is eligible for SPL then they may be entitled to Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP).