Legal advice from Stephen Poyner, FDR Law partner, head of commercial litigation and employment department, based at Bold Street, Warrington.
New parents to get more flexible maternity and paternity leave
Q: My wife is expecting our first child in May and we would like to share the baby’s care during its first year. How do the new rules for Shared Parental Leave work?
A: You are absolutely right to say more flexible rules have been introduced to give parents more choice over how they arrange the first year of care after their baby is born.
The new rules apply from 1st December 2014 and apply to any baby born on or after 5th April 2015. Employed mothers will continue to be eligible for 52 weeks of maternity leave and 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay. Employed fathers are still also entitled to take a fortnight’s paternity leave.
However the new Shared Parental Leave rules mean that parents will be able to share the 52 week leave pot and the statutory pay entitlement, currently £138 per week. They can even decide to be off work at the same time or take it in turns to look after the new baby.
Under the new rules, parents are entitled to take a ‘continuous’ period of leave but they can also request to take up to three separate ‘discontinuous’ leave blocks each over this set period. These blocks must be for a minimum period of a week and employers are not forced to agree to this ‘discontinuous’ pattern but can ask you to amalgamate the time into one uninterrupted block.
Whatever your intentions, you must give your employers at least eight weeks’ notice of your intentions and it would certainly pay you to have an open and flexible discussion well in advance.