New rules have come into force that allows couples to share Maternity/ Paternity Leave after their baby is born, or they adopt a child. From April 5, 2015 shared parental leave (SPL) will mean that either parent can take time off work in the year after your baby is born, or within a year of adoption.
So what is SPL?
A way for working parents to share the care of their young children or both care for the child at the same time. After the initial two weeks of paid Maternity Leave that a mother has to take, and the two weeks of paid Paternity Leave that’s available to fathers, parents can now share an additional 50-week “pot” of Shared Parental Leave.
So we can both we get paid to take time off?
Yes. You will get paid when you’re off work and taking SPL but only for 37 of the 50 weeks that you can take.
What’s more, most people won’t earn their full salary. For the first six weeks the person on leave will receive 90% of his or her average weekly earnings before tax.
After that you will get £145.18 a week, or you’ll continue to get 90% of your salary for the remaining 33 paid weeks (whichever is lower). Some employers do have more generous schemes, though, so do ask.
And remember that the 37 weeks of SPL is in addition to the two weeks paid Maternity or Paternity Leave that a parent can take.
Can everyone get it?
Not everyone. To get SPL you must share the care of your child with either your husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter, the child’s other parent, or your partner (as long your partner lives with you and your child)
The other criteria that you’ll have to meet are similar to Maternity and Paternity Leave, such as having been employed in the same job for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date (or by the date you are matched with your adopted child). Find out if you qualify here…
How do I set this up?
If you and your baby’s other parent are eligible for SPL you both need to let your employer know at least eight weeks before you want SPL to start. You’ll need to give your employer your partner’s employment details and you might need to supply a copy of the child’s birth certificate as soon as you’ve registered the birth.
For example, if you’re a mum and you want SPL to start immediately after your two week’s maternity leave you’ll need to tell your employer when you want your maternity leave to end and SPL to start eight weeks before you make the switch from one leave to another.
Can I start it before the baby is born?
No. It’s not designed so you and hubby can have a holiday before the birth! You can only start Shared Parental Leave (SPL) once the child has been born or adopted and the baby’s mother has finished the compulsory two weeks of maternity leave following the birth (four weeks if she works in a factory).
But we can take it at the same time?
Yes. SPL is designed for parents to share the care of their children and you can take it at the same time. But remember you are sharing 50 weeks of leave, so if you want to both take 25 weeks at the same time you can, or you can share the leave between you (although only the first 37 weeks are paid).
Do I have to take it all at once?
No. You can book up to three separate blocks of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) instead of taking it all in one go but this is at the discretion of your employer.
If your partner is eligible for SPL, you can take leave at different times – or both at the same time.
What if my child is premature?
If the child is born more than 8 weeks early, this notice period to start SPL can be shorter.
What if one of us is self-employed?
A self-employed parent will not be entitled to take Shared Parental leave but they could still pass the employment and earnings test, which will allow the other employed parent in the family to qualify.