Government Proposal to Promote Equality in Parenthood
The Government has published a response to its recent consultation over proposals for a new system of shared parental leave.
The idea of shared parental leave is that both parents will be able to take leave/pay and share it in a much more flexible way than the current maternity leave and additional paternity leave arrangements allow: currently the mother takes the first chunk of maternity leave then she can return to work leaving her partner to take the equivalent of the remainder of her maternity leave and pay as "Additional paternity leave".
The shared parental leave system will replace any remaining maternity leave where the couple choose to opt in to it. Otherwise the current system of maternity leave and additional paternity leave will still apply. Shared parental leave allows the couple to take it in whatever pattern they wish - it could be several short periods of leave with work in between; they could take it at the same time, so that both parents can spend time together with the baby; or they can alternate.
Other key elements of the shared parental leave system are:
- Employees will have to give an indication of the shared parental leave pattern they propose to take but this will not be binding
- Employees will have to give 8 weeks' notice of each period of leave that they take
- Leave will be in one week blocks
- There will be a potential total of 52 weeks' leave and up to 39 weeks' pay for the parents to share
- The employee will only be able to give up to 3 notices of leave (including the first notification), to help minimise disruption for the employer
- Shared parental leave will have to be taken by no later than the 52nd week after the birth or adoption
- Each parent will have up to 20 Keeping In Touch (KIT) days - these are days that they can do some work, if the employer agrees, during the leave period
The details of shared parental leave will be drawn up by the Government as secondary legislation, once the Children and Families Bill receives Royal Assent. It will become law in 2015, so watch this space!