Holding the baby

Having a baby is one of the proudest moments in any parent’s life and making those precious first memories with a newborn is an exciting time for both mother and father.

New Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) regulations, to be introduced on Monday, December 1, will allow those who are due to welcome babies or adopted children on or after the April 5, 2015, to make the most of the early days of parenthood.

The introduction of SPL and ShPP will give parents, partners or adopters the opportunity of additional flexibility in sharing caring responsibilities, allowing both parents to take time off work to care for their new arrival.

HR and law employment firm, Empire, advises employers how the new scheme will affect them.

Operations director of Empire, Donna Gibb, said: “Parents will not be obliged to take SPL once the new scheme is in place, however it important for employers to discuss the most beneficial maternity and paternity options with employees to ensure they understand the different opportunities they have regarding their maternity or paternity leave.”  

Donna Gibb

Initial request
When a maternity, paternity or adoption leave request has been made, employers should arrange an informal discussion with the employee to discuss options and raise awareness of the new SPL scheme available.

Managers, should also be fully aware of the rights and entitlements that employees are eligible to receive with regards to shared parental leave.  

Discontinuous block
SPL can be used in up to three separate blocks, however employers can agree to more where applicable. Blocks of discontinuous leave can be split into several shorter periods of work and leave. However, this must be agreed to and signed off by the employer, who needs to take the business’ needs into consideration throughout this process.

The employer can refuse a discontinuous block of SPL, although it is advised to work around both schedules and make suggestions of time periods which work best for the employee and the organisation. The employer has 14 days to discuss the proposal with the employee before agreeing.

If an employee wishes to take continuous leave, the employer cannot reject the request and must decide how to cover the employee’s position when they are absent.

Employers cannot refuse a continuous leave request. Furthermore, an employee should never be put under any pressure to change their arranged time off or face any repercussions if they refuse to change dates to suit the company.

Employers granting a discontinuous block of leave must confirm the agreement in the 14-day period and also have this agreement in writing.

There is no statutory obligation for employers to respond to any notification regarding SPL, however getting back to the employee is advantageous in sustaining a positive working environment.
As continuous leave must be accepted, if employers do not respond to these requests, the employee has the right to take the leave without permission.

SPL must be taken within the baby’s birth and first birthday, or first year following adoption.

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