Recently the Government has published its response to the “Consultation on the administration of Shared Parental Leave and Pay”. Shared parental leave is due to be implemented by 2015.
The reasoning behind the introduction of shared parental leave centres on the Government’s aim to create more flexibility for working parents and to create a framework to support modern working families. The new system will allow eligible working families to balance their work and family commitments. Parents will be able to share the 52 weeks’ leave which can currently be taken by ‘a mother’ after having a baby or adopting a child. Under the new statutory scheme, couples could also share 39 weeks’ pay.
Couples will be able to take leave together, or the mother could return to work and allow her partner to take the balance of the leave, or alternatively the couple could take the leave in turns.
Key features the Government has proposed the following:
- The time limit in which to take shared parental leave will be 52 weeks from birth;
- A woman will have to give her employer at least 8 weeks’ notice of her intention to end maternity leave and pay, and begin shared parental leave and pay;
- Both parents are required to give 8 weeks’ notice to begin shared parental leave and, if they want to take several blocks of leave, they must give 8 weeks’ notice of each period of leave;
- Employees are required to give a non-binding indication of their expected leave pattern when they notify of their intention to take shared parental leave;
- Each parent will be entitled to take 20 ‘keeping in touch days’ without bringing shared parental leave to an end; this will be in addition to the 10 ‘keeping in touch days’ a mother can take during maternity leave;
- Employees will be entitled to return to the same job, provided they have taken less than 26 weeks’ leave in total (to include periods of maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental leave).
It is clear that shared parental leave is going to change the industrial landscape, and the new proposals may be difficult to manage and administer, particularly for small employers.
Although on the surface it is more doom and gloom and increased administration for small companies I personally think the take up will be small especially when companies just offer the standard pay which is £136.78 per week. Regrettably most young couples are dependent on both incomes most men are still the higher earners and they frankly especially in the south just can’t afford the salary sacrifice.
I think this is another scheme like employee shareholders that is all smoke and mirrors looks good but will have minimal impact
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