On the 1st December 2014, Shared Parental Leave will be introduced (subject to Parliamentary approval). It is intended that these new regulations will provide greater flexibility and allow parents to share the care for their baby in the first year.
Parents whose children are due to be born or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015, and who satisfy eligibility criteria related to their working status, will be able to access the new parental leave options.
The fine detail of the Regulations still need to be confirmed but the key points are:
- Mothers are still entitled to 52 weeks of Maternity Leave and 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance.
- Fathers and a mother’s or adopter’s partner are still entitled to paid Paternity Leave of two weeks.
- If she chooses to do so, an eligible mother can end her maternity leave early and, with her partner or the child’s father, opt for Shared Parental Leave instead of Maternity Leave. If they both meet the qualifying requirements, they will need to decide how they want to divide their Shared Parental Leave and Pay entitlement.
- Parental leave can be taken in 1 week blocks with gap periods
- Adopters will have the same rights as other parents to Shared Parental leave and pay.
In practice this could allow a mother to return to work after a period of maternity leave and then resume parental leave at a later date.