From 5 April 2015, mothers will be able to curtail their maternity leave after two weeks to enable them to take shared parental leave with their partner. This means that employers should put in place procedures for dealing with requests from employees for shared parental leave.

Employers will have to determine, for example, whether or not they will pay enhanced contractual pay for employees on shared parental leave and how they will approach requests for discontinuous leave and “shared-parental-leave-in-touch” days.

We set out 10 steps for HR professionals to follow when drafting their shared parental leave policy.

Explain the concept of shared parental leave

Shared parental leave is a brand new employment right with rules that will be alien to HR staff, employees and line managers, particularly the possibility that a new mother will be able to end her maternity leave so soon after the birth of her child.   The shared parental leave policy should explain the concept of shared parental leave and the reasoning behind it.

Set out how much shared parental leave is available

The shared parental leave policy should explain that the amount of shared parental leave to which an individual is entitled will depend on when the mother brings her maternity leave period to an end and the amount of leave that the other parent takes in respect of the child.  The policy can also set out how shared parental leave can be taken, for example that the leave must be taken in blocks of at least one week.

Define who is eligible for shared parental leave

For employees to be eligible to take shared parental leave, both parents must meet detailed eligibility requirements.
For example, the employee must have at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment with the employer ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. And the employee’s partner must have been employed or been a self-employed earner during at least 26 of the 66 weeks immediately preceding the expected week of childbirth. The shared parental leave policy should state who is eligible to take shared parental leave.


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