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Shared Parental Leave

Introduction

Policy and Procedure

Definitions/Abbreviations

Length of Leave

Timing of Leave

Eligibility

Procedure

Introduction

Shared parental leave is a way for parents to share statutory leave and pay.  It is intended that this allows fathers to play a greater role in raising their child, and helps mothers return to work when they want to without losing leave entitlement, and allows mothers to return to work temporarily for a busy period or an important project. The University is fully supportive of shared parental leave and every effort will be made to accommodate the timing of the request for Shared Parental leave.

The right allows the mother to choose to bring her maternity/adoption leave to an end at any point after the initial two week compulsory maternity/adoption leave period following the birth of the child. The parents can choose how to split up the remaining weeks of leave between them. Shared parental leave can be taken by each parent separately or at the same time. The intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement will also be entitled to take advantage of Shared Parental Leave.

Shared parental leave does not replace the current arrangements for maternity/adoption pay and leave (Section 8) and it is separate from the right to unpaid parental leave (see Section 10).

The Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014 was laid before Parliament in accordance with Section 236(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996(1) and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament; the regulations came into force on 1 December 2014.

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Definitions/Abbreviations

SPL: Shared Parental Leave.

ShPP: Statutory Shared Parental Pay.

Continuous leave: a period of leave that is taken in one block e.g. four weeks’ leave.

Discontinuous Leave: a period of leave that is arranged around weeks where the employee will return to work e.g. an arrangement where an employee will work every other week for a period of three months.

SPLIT day: Shared Parental Leave in Touch Day.

Unpaid Parental Leave: separate to SPL, entitles employees to take up to 18 weeks off work to look after a child’s welfare, this leave is normally unpaid.

Match: when an adopter is approved to adopt a named child or children.

Curtail: where an eligible mother brings their maternity/adoption leave and, if appropriate, pay or allowance entitlement to an end early. This is sometimes referred to as reducing the maternity/adoption leave period or reducing the maternity/adoption pay or Maternity Allowance period.

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Length of Leave

The maximum amount of leave that can be shared between the parents is 50 weeks.

The leave can be taken separately or at the same time subject to the following requirements (and provided the required notification has been given):

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Timing of Leave

The leave can be taken during the 12 months following the birth of the child, but cannot begin earlier than the two weeks following the birth of the child.

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Eligibility

To qualify for Shared Parental Leave a mother must meet certain eligibility criteria:

A parent intending to take Shared Parental Leave must:

In addition, a parent wanting to take Shared Parental leave, is required to satisfy the ‘continuity of employment test’ and their partner must meet the ‘employment and earnings test’.

Continuity of Employment Test

The individual has worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks before the end of the 15th week before the child’s expected due date/matching date and is still working for the employer at the start of each leave period.

Employment and Earnings Test

In the 66 weeks leading up to the baby’s expected due date/matching date, the person had worked for at least 26 weeks and earned an average of at least £30 (as of 2015) a week in any 13 weeks.

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Procedure

Firstly, a request to curtail Maternity leave must be made by the mother giving at least 8 weeks’ notice. The Applicant should complete the Maternity/Adoption Leave and Pay Curtailment Notice available from Human Resources.

A request for Shared Parental Leave must also be made (giving at least 8 weeks’ notice) by completing the Shared Parental Leave - Notice of Entitlementt’ request available from Human Resources.

Lastly, the parents must also provide their employer with a written ‘Period of Leave’ notice, giving the start and end dates of the periods of leave requested. This can be given at the same time as the ‘Notice of Entitlement’ or can be given later. The notice can request one or more periods of leave but only three periods of leave notices in total can be given by each parent (including requests to vary a period of leave that has already been arranged).

The forms should be sent to the Head of Discipline Lead/Dean/Director. The Head of Discipline Lead/Dean/Director has responsibility for completing Section 2 of the Forms and for sending copies to the Applicant and Human Resources (for record keeping and payroll purposes purposes).

If an employee requests one period of continuous Shared Parental Leave, the employee is entitled to take the period of leave provided they meet the eligibility criteria.

If discontinuous periods of Shared Parental Leave are requested, agreement must be reached with the employer. The employer may:

The default position is that leave should be taken in a single block commencing on the date specified by the employee but with at least 8 weeks’ notice to the employer.

Every effort will be made to accommodate the timing of the request for Shared Parental leave, and any refusal must be justifiable, for example, by the business needs of the Discipline/Directorate/School.

The employee will maintain his / her employment rights, including those to continuity of service, while on Shared Parental Leave. 

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Statutory Shared Parental Leave (ShPP)

Eligible employees may be entitled to take up to 37 weeks Statutory Shared Parental Pay while taking Shared Parental Leave. The amount of weeks available will depend on the amount by which the mother/adopter reduces their maternity/adoption pay period or maternity allowance period.  If the maximum amount of Shared Parental Leave available (50 weeks) is taken, 13 weeks will be unpaid.

Statutory Shared Parental Pay is paid at the statutory rate or 90% of the average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). Statutory Shared Parental Pay increases on an annual basis on 5 April.

If the mother or adopter curtails their entitlement to maternity/adoption pay or maternity allowance before they have used their full entitlement then Shared parental pay can be claimed for any remaining weeks.

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Shared Parental Leave in Touch days (SPLIT)

Shared Parental Leave in Touch (SPLIT) days will be available for parents taking shared parental leave. Up to 20 SPLIT days can be agreed between employer and employee. These will be in addition to the Keeping in Touch (KIT) days already available for women on statutory maternity leave. Arrangements will be similar to those in place for KIT days (See Section 8).  Unused KIT entitlement cannot be carried forward into a period of SPL. 

Your line manager will record the dates that you attend work for a SPLIT day and submit these dates (and the hours worked) to Payroll once these days have been worked. 

Alternatively instead of receiving a payment for hours worked, by agreement with the manager, you may instead accrue time off in lieu for these hours.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can a father take Shared Parental Leave if a mother is still on maternity leave?

A father can take SPL at the same time as the mother is on maternity leave, provided that the mother has given notice to curtail her maternity leave.

What happens if both the mother and the father work for the University and want to take a period of SPL?

Both employees will be entitled to take SPL provided that they meet the general eligibility and notice requirement.

Can same-sex couples take Shared Parental Leave?

Yes. You can take shared parental leave with your spouse, civil partner or partner. Partner is defined as someone (whether of a different sex or the same sex) who lives with you in an enduring family relationship (but who is not your child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew).

updated, February 2016

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