Last week it was announced that the Government is reforming the statutory pay and leave entitlements available to employed parents. The existing scheme titled ‘Additional Paternity Leave and Pay’ will be replaced with ‘Shared Parental Leave’ (SPL) and ‘Shared Paternal Pay’ (ShPP), enabling fathers and partners to take a greater role in caring for a child. The new scheme also helps either the parents or the adopters better balance childcare responsibilities whilst staying in work.
We’ve got the latest information about this new scheme and have provided you with a succinct summary of it all below.
The new scheme applies to the parents of children born or placed for adoption on or after 5th April 2015. Under SPL, mothers/adopters will be able to choose to end their maternity/adoption leave and pay early (at any point from two weeks after the birth or after 2 weeks of adoption leave/pay), and share their untaken pay and leave with their partner. Shared parental leave and pay can be stopped and started and parents can be off at the same time, if they wish.
Parents will be able to take their leave in phases. For example, parents can take 20 weeks for the mother/adopter, followed by 20 weeks for the father/partner, followed by 10 weeks for the mother/adopter. As a result, it may be the case that statutory parental pay is paid over two or more discontinuous periods.
Additionally, parents must notify their employers of their plans under SPL eight weeks before they become eligible for it, and all shared leave and pay must be taken between the birth and the child’s first birthday or the date of placement and the first anniversary of that date.
Some employers may wish to create their own requirements for how their employees notify them. In any case, the government will soon be providing an example form for parents to use.
We anticipate that employers will need to update payroll systems where relevant to accommodate providing statutory parental pay to employees taking SPL, and to enable these payments to be paid discontinuously where necessary.
A key part of SPL is the discussion between employer and employee to agree the phasing of SPL and the return to work, and ACAS will also publish guidance to support this process. This will be published on the Acas website when it becomes available www.acas.gov.uk.
Current entitlement to 52 weeks statutory maternity/adoption leave, 39 of which is paid, and two weeks of statutory paternity leave and pay is all unchanged. The first six weeks of Statutory Adoption Pay will increase to 90% of average weekly earnings for adoption pay periods that begin on or after 5 April 2015.
It was announced this week that as of April 2015, all Civil Service employees would be entitled to full parental pay, as opposed to the current scheme where only mothers are entitled to full pay. The changes to the Civil Service pay arrangements will allow more fathers to be able to afford to take time off to care for their children. We’ll have more information on this as it’s published.