Expectant mums and dads get ready for shared parental leave
Shared parental leave comes into effect in April, giving families more flexibility than ever before.
Under the scheme, working couples will be able to share untaken maternity leave and pay, following the first 2 weeks’ recovery period that mothers have to take off after birth. It means that up to 50 weeks leave and 37 weeks of pay can be shared.
Parents can take leave at the same time, so they can be at home together from the birth if this arranged.
The right is available to parents of babies born after 5 April this year. Parents have to give eight weeks’ notice of how they intend to share the leave entitlement, so parents who want to take up their entitlement in the next few months need to start talking to their employers as soon as possible if they haven’t already done so.
Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said: “Shared Parental Leave will kick start a change where fathers feel empowered to take time off to look after their kids and not feel constrained by outdated stereotypes. We recognise that this isn’t going to be easy for those at the forefront of the change but we also know that for many dads the nerves they feel about having a conversation with their boss around leave will be worth it in the end.
“We also know that many employers are incredibly supportive and keen to offer mums and dads more flexibility.”
Government officials have provided brief guidelines for couples wanting to share their parental leave:
- the first thing to do is make sure you are eligible for Shared Parental Leave. This quick and easy online tool will do the hard work for you
- talk to your partner before speaking to your employer. The combinations are flexible so make sure they fit around your life and work for you as a couple. Maybe you want to double up in the early days for extra support or you might decide to tag-team halfway through – the choice is yours
- have the conversation with your employer as early as you can. The sooner you do, the easier it will be to make plans for your time away from the work. Remember you have to give your employer at least 8 weeks’ notice of your intention to take Shared Parental Leave
- check to see if your employer offers an enhanced package (a package over and above statutory), and if they do, what type of package it is
- most importantly, know your rights. No employers can opt out of Shared Parental Leave if you are eligible.
Please contact Jackie Cuneen if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.