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Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) is a new entitlement for eligible parents of children due to be born on or placed for adoption on or after 5th April 2015. SPL is intended to allow parents greater flexibility and choice in how they care for their child in its first year.

Basically, the parents of a child and adoptive parents can decide how to divide a total of 52 weeks of leave between them providing they qualify for SPL. The mother/primary adopter  has to take two weeks off but the remaining 50 weeks of leave inclusive of 37 weeks of statutory parental pay can be shared and either taken at the same time, separately, or in a series of chunks, in agreement with us.

The option of taking SPL and pay will depend on individual circumstances and may suit some families.

These are some of the factors to consider:

  • Do both parents qualify for SPL/Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)
  • Do parents want to take leave together or separately
  • Does the mother/primary adopter want to reduce their maternity/adoption leave and pay period
  • Any other options, such as taking annual leave, Keeping In Touch (KIT) days or asking for flexible working

The following should also be noted:

  • Maternity/Adoption leave can only be taken in one block but SPL can give further blocks of leave (between the baby’s birth/placement and first birthday).
  • Once the mother/primary adopter has curtailed their maternity/adoption leave/pay, this can only be reinstated in limited circumstances.
  • Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)/Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) is paid at the higher rate of 90% of the mother’s/primary adopter’s average earnings for the first six weeks. After the first six weeks SMP/SAP is paid at the statutory rate. ShPP is only paid at the statutory rate.
  • Mothers are protected from discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy and maternity leave. This protected period ends at the end of maternity leave.

Your Responsibilities

  • To inform your line manager as soon as possible of your wish to take SPL.
  • To provide the required information in support of your request to take SPL.
  • Positively participate in discussions about dates and provide supporting information and evidence as requested in line with the prescribed timescales.
  • To ensure the other parent also meets the eligibility for SPL and send the correct notifications/documentation and evidence for SPL to their employer to meet their employer’s requirements for SPL requests.

Line Manager Responsibilities

  • To seek early discussions with employees to give timely consideration to requests taking into consideration service requirements.
  • To ensure that the required information is provided and forwarded to the absence team within the required timescales so that pay records can be amended.
  • To ensure that appropriate cover arrangements are put in place.

Parents will remain entitled to take maternity, adoption, paternity and parental leave. However, an eligible mother/primary adopter may now choose to reduce their maternity/adoption leave early and opt into SPL.

SPL overlaps with a mother's/primary adopter’s right to take maternity/adoption leave and exists alongside her partner’s right to take one or two week’s paternity leave. It replaces the right to additional paternity leave.

SPL should not be confused with Parental Leave that allows for up to 18 weeks of unpaid time off work before a child’s 18th birthday.

Eligible parents will be able to share a maximum of 50 weeks leave inclusive of 39 weeks statutory pay, for the purpose of caring for a child within the first year of the child’s life.

SPL cannot be taken until after the birth/placing of the child and only applies to babies born or children placed on or after 5th April 2015. Partners do not have to work for us but they must satisfy minimum employment and earnings criteria.

You will need to meet the eligibility criteria below in order to qualify for SPL.

Eligibility Criteria

If you are the mother/primary adopter, to be eligible you need to:

  • Have worked for us for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due (or by the date s/he is matched with a child for adoption.
  • Still be working for us right up until they take SPL.
  • Be entitled to statutory maternity/adoption leave in respect of the child.
  • Comply with the relevant maternity/adoption leave curtailment requirements (or has returned to work before the end of statutory maternity/adoption leave).
  • Have a partner who fulfils the ‘employment and earnings test’ (this means work for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before the expected week of childbirth and earn at least £30 in 13 of those weeks) and provide a declaration to this effect.
  • Give the required notification and declarations including a declaration from the mother/primary adopter that they are eligible for SPL, and consents to the partner’s application for SPL (and vice versa).

If you are the secondary carer, you must:

  • Have continuous employment for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due (or by the date s/he is matched with a child for adoption).
  • Still be working for us right up to when s/he takes SPL.
  • Share the primary responsibility for the child’s care.
  • The mother/primary adopter of the child must have worked for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before the baby is due, and earn at least £30 week, and they must be entitled to maternity/adoption leave, SMP/SAP or Maternity Allowance. If entitled to maternity /adoption leave, s/he must have curtailed it or returned to work. If s/he is not entitled to maternity/adoption leave, s/he must have ended their entitlement to SMP/SAP pay or Maternity Allowance.
  • Provide the required notification and declarations. This will include:
    • A declaration signed by the secondary carer and by the mother/primary adopter, stating that s/he is eligible for SPL and how many weeks s/he intends to take.
    • A booking notice, which will set out the dates and patterns of leave s/he proposes.

Your signed declaration of eligibility is sufficient as evidence – we do not need to check this with the other parent’s employer.

Sometimes only one parent will be eligible.

For example if a mother/primary adopter meets the eligibility conditions, but the partner has not worked for their employer long enough to qualify for SPL, they will not be able to take their share of SPL, but the mother/primary adopter may chose to split their time between maternity/adoption leave and SPL giving them more flexibility on how to take leave, such as taking discontinuous blocks of leave. If both parents satisfy the required criteria then the leave may be shared between them. It is up to the two of them how the leave will be shared.

Only two people will be eligible for SPL per birth/placement e.g. mother/primary adopter and partner. If the mother/primary adopter is not entitled to maternity/adoption leave, s/he must have ended, or given notice to reduce, their maternity/adoption pay period or maternity allowance period, for their partner to be eligible for SPL.

Example:

  1. 52 weeks in total for maternity/adoption leave
  2. Minus number of weeks taken before birth: 4 weeks
  3. Minus number of compulsory weeks: 2 weeks
  4. Minus number of weeks taken since birth, if notification is given after that date: 0
  5. Total available to take as SPL = 46 weeks

A mother/primary adopter, subject to certain criteria, will be entitled to statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)/ Statutory Adoption Pay or Maternity Allowance (MA) for up to 39 weeks.

If the mother/primary adopter curtails their entitlement to  maternity/adoption pay or maternity allowance before they have received it for 39 weeks then any remaining weeks could become available as ShPP.

The employee can only curtail the right to SMP/SAP or MA if they have provided the ‘notification of entitlement and intent’.

Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) is paid at £151.20 per week or 90% of an employee’s average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

If both parents qualify for ShPP they must decide who will receive it, or how it will be divided, and they must each inform their employer of their entitlement.

To qualify for ShPP a parent must:

  • Pass the continuity of employment test (worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the child’s expected due date/matching date) and
  • Have earned an average salary of the lower earnings limit (the amount of gross weekly earnings that allow an employee to qualify for certain state benefits) of £120 for the 8 weeks’ prior to the 15th week before the expected due date or matching date.

The other parent in the family must:

  • Meet the employment and earnings test (In the 66 weeks leading up to the baby’s expected due date/matching date, the person has worked for at least 26 weeks and earned an average of at least £30 a week in any 13 weeks).

If an employee intends to claim ShPP, they must give notice and complete all the sections included in the ‘Notice of Entitlement and Intention’ form:

The following information is required:

  • How much ShPP both parents are entitled to take
  • How much ShPP each parent intends to take
  • When they expect to take ShPP
  • A declaration from the employee’s partner confirming their agreement to the employee claiming their amount of ShPP

The qualifying parent will receive statutory shared parental pay.

It is important that you notify your Line Manager as soon as possible in relation to your plans to take SPL, so that your Line Manager can begin planning for the anticipated absence.

The notices that the parents must give to the relevant employer to be able to take shared parental leave are made up of three elements. They are:

  1. A ‘maternity/adoption leave curtailment notice’ from the mother/primary adopter setting out when s/he proposes to end their maternity/adoption leave (unless the mother/primary adopter has already returned to work from maternity/adoption leave);
  2. A ‘notice of entitlement and intention’ from the employee giving an initial, non-binding indication of each period of shared parental leave that s/he is requesting; and
  3. A ‘period of leave notice’ from the employee setting out the start and end date of each period of shared parental leave that s/he is requesting.

In order for a period of SPL to commence the eligible mother/primary adopter will have to curtail their maternity/adoption leave in one of two ways:

  • S/he can return to work before the end of the maternity/adoption leave period thus bringing their maternity/adoption leave to an end. As now, a mother/primary adopter will be able to end their maternity/adoption leave before the end of the 52 week entitlement by giving 8 weeks’ notice of their planned return to work. Once s/he has returned to work, the mothers/primary adopters maternity will end and cannot be restarted, or:
  • S/he can give notice to us to end their maternity/adoption leave on a date in the future that the mother/primary adopter specifies by submitting a ‘notice of entitlement and intention’.

The mother/primary adopter should give notice to curtail their maternity/adoption leave. The maternity/adoption leave curtailment notice must be in writing and state the date on which maternity/adoption leave is to end. That date must be:

  • After the compulsory two weeks maternity/adoption leave period
  • At least 8 weeks after the date on which the mother/primary adopter gave the maternity/adoption leave curtailment notice
  • At least one week before what would be the end of the additional maternity/adoption leave period.

Curtailment allows an employee to end the Leave and Pay period at a future date.

Download: Form: Maternity/Adoption Leave curtailment notice

 

If the mother/primary adopter has given notice to end their maternity/adoption leave and either parent has informed their employer of their entitlement to take SPL then the notice to end maternity/adoption leave is binding and can only be withdrawn in limited circumstances. This must be in writing and can be given only if the mother/primary adopter has not returned to work.

The mother/primary adopter can withdraw his/her maternity/adoption leave curtailment notice if:

  • Within 8 weeks of the mother/primary adopter submitting notice to end their maternity/adoption leave it transpires that neither parent qualifies for SPL.
  • When notice was given before birth/placement, it may be withdrawn without a reason up to 6 weeks following the birth/placement.
  • The partner has died.

If the mother /primary adopter revoke their notice to end their maternity/adoption leave they can remain on maternity/adoption leave. Their entitlement to maternity/adoption leave is restored to a total of 52 weeks.

Download: Form: Revoke a leave curtailment notice

The ‘notification of entitlement and intention’ is only an indication of a couple’s possible future plans and is not binding.

Both parents must provide a non-binding notice of entitlement and intention to their respective employers. Employees must provide this notice to their manager in writing at least 8 weeks before the start date of the first period of shared parental leave to be taken.

The ‘notification of entitlement and intention’ must be submitted at the same time as the ‘curtailment notice’.

The notice of entitlement and intention must cover specific information required under the statutory regulations. Employees should use the notification of entitlement and intention form provided in order to ensure they provide all the required information.

The absence team should ensure that the parent is eligible to apply for, and take, the leave and can request evidence within 14 days of receiving the intention notice. The following information may be requested:

  • The name and address of your partner’s employer
  • A copy of the birth certificate
  • In the case of an adopted child, documentary evidence of the name and address of the adoption agency, the date on which you were notified of having been matched with the child and the date on which the agency expects to place the child for adoption
  • In the case of surrogacy, evidence that you have applied for a parental order

In order to be entitled to SPL, you must produce this information within 14 days of it being request.

The form requires a signed declaration by you and your partner stating that you meet the eligibility requirements. Your partner is required to declare their address and National Insurance Number.

This form can be regarded as an opt-in form, i.e. saying to employers that there is an intention to take SPL at some time in the future. However, as it is not binding you do not have to opt-in at a later date.

Downloads:
Form: Notice of Entitlement and Intention (mother/primary adopter)
Form: Notice of Entitlement and Intention (partner)

The ‘notice of entitlement and intention’ form is mandatory, as it will establish eligibility and confirm entitlement. A couple is not eligible unless this form is completed.

Following submission of the ‘notice of entitlement and intention’ informal discussions should take place between you and your line manager about the periods of intended SPL.

It is important that line managers regard the receipt of the ‘notice of entitlement and intention’ as the start of the discussion period and process.

The 8 week notice period given will be inclusive of a 2 weeks discussion period giving parents the opportunity to have open discussions with their line managers about their plans ahead of making a formal request for leave.

A discussion at this stage could be a good opportunity to draw your attention to the different options (maternity, paternity, adoption, flexible working etc), which may include both statutory and contractually-enhanced schemes.

Line managers should be fully aware of the rights and entitlements of employees seeking to take SPL and will need to take a proactive and supportive role.

Although non-binding, should you wish to vary or cancel speculative dates of leave provided in your original notification, you should inform your line manager in writing as soon as possible of the proposed changes, along with a declaration signed by the other parent that they agree to the variation.

There is no limit on the number of variations of ‘notice of entitlement and intention’ that can be made.

Download: Form: Variation of notice of entitlement and intention

You make your leave request by completing a ‘period of leave notice’ form which must be submitted giving 8 weeks’ notice before the start of the leave.

The ‘booking’ notification is also not binding. It is only at the point of curtailment that the notifications become binding.

The period of leave notice may be given at the same time as a ‘notice of entitlement and intention’ and can be a request for a continuous period of leave or discontinuous periods of leave.

Download: Form: Period of leave notice form

Continuous Leave

This is an unbroken period of leave. You have a statutory right to take a continuous block of shared parental leave. For example, this could be a notification for a period of six weeks’ leave. Eligible employees have a statutory right to take SPL in this way.

A continuous leave notification must be accepted.

Discontinuous Leave

This is a period of leave over time with breaks between weeks of leave where the employee returns to work. You can put in up to three requests for discontinuous leave, though each block of time requested may be split into smaller periods of time. For example you can request 1-28 May, 20-30 June and 1 – 30 August. This would be counted as one request and so you would have two remaining requests.

The minimum period of SPL is a week.

Discontinuous leave is subject to agreement and may either be approved, refused or different dates suggested.

You have an entitlement to a total of 3 notifications of leave requests which are made up of the following types:

  • A notice to book continuous or discontinuous periods of leave that is not withdrawn on or before the 15th calendar day following submission.
  • Any notice from you to vary periods of previously arranged and agreed leave.

Both parents should ensure that notifications of leave cover the full shared leave entitlement that they have decided to take.

Instances when your requests may be disregarded

  • Where the line manager proposes a variation to leave, and you agree, this would not count as a further notification and this should be confirmed in writing.
  • Notices which are withdrawn or varied as a result of the child being born or placed earlier or later than expected, will be disregarded.

All notices for continuous leave will be confirmed in writing. All requests for discontinuous leave will be carefully considered.

Once a request for discontinuous leave is made you and your line manager will have a discussion period of 14 calendar days (from the date the request is received) to talk about the request.

Once your line manager has received, considered and discussed a notice to book SPL there are 3 possible outcomes:

  • Approved
  • Refused
  • Alternative dates are suggested

If within the 14 calendar days, no agreement is reached or your line manager refuses the discontinuous leave notification or no response is received to a discontinuous leave notification, the following default provisions will apply.

Within 14 days of the original notification:

  • The total amount of leave in the discontinuous request must be taken as one continuous block. You will then have to decide whether to take the leave as a continuous block or to withdraw the request.

Within 15 calendar days of the original notification:

  • If no agreement is reached, you may withdraw the discontinuous leave notification. You must provide this in writing to your line manager within 15 days of the original notification.
  • If you withdraw the request it will not count as one of the three notices to book leave.
  • If you do not withdraw the request, the discontinuous leave notification automatically defaults to a period of continuous leave.

Within 19 calendar days of the original notification:

  • You can choose when the continuous leave will commence but it cannot start sooner than eight weeks from the date the original notification was given. You must provide this in writing to your line manager within 19 days of the original request.
  • If you do not choose, the start date automatically defaults to the date the requested discontinuous leave would have first started.

Each request for discontinuous leave will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  You should understand the default provisions that are in place so you do not miss an action point deadline.

 

An employee can vary or cancel his/her proposed shared parental leave dates following the submission of a period of leave notice, provided that he/she provides his/her employer with a written notice not less than 8 weeks before any period of leave varied or cancelled by the notice is due to commence. The written notice can:

  • Vary the start date or the end date of any period of shared parental leave or cancel a request for leave;
  • Request that a continuous period of leave become discontinuous period of leave; or
  • Request that discontinuous periods of leave become a continuous period of leave.

Discuss the variation

Your line manager will need to consider the requested variation.

Line Manager proposes a variation to Leave

There may be instances, provided you are in agreement, where the line manager proposes a variation to leave, this would not count as a further notification and this will be confirmed in writing.

There may be instances, where your line manager and you are unable to agree the pattern of discontinuous leave. Where no agreement is reached by the end of the 2 week discussion period, you are entitled to withdraw the notice. As long as this is done by the 15th day after submitting it, you are able to resubmit and the first notice will not count towards the cap of three.

Downloads:
Form: Notice to Vary Leave

There is no obligation on us to check information that is provided on any notification to curtail leave or pay. However, like the notice of entitlement and intent, we will want to check it has been received 8 weeks in advance of the end of the pay period.

Early communication between the line manager and employee is the key towards agreeing leave that works best for both parties.

We reserve the right to maintain reasonable contact with you to keep you up to date on changes in the work place which may help ease the return to work.

We have a legal obligation to you while you are away from work and will keep you informed about issues such as job opportunities.

You can work during SPL on a ‘shared parental leave-in-touch’ (SPLIT) day without bringing SPL to an end or losing ShPP.

It is possible to work for up to 20 SPLIT days during SPL leave.

SPLIT days are:

  • Available to each parent in the Shared Parental arrangement
  • In addition to the 10 KIT days in the Maternity and Adoption Leave periods

For example, a mother/primary adopter could use 10 KIT days during their Maternity/Adoption Leave Period and then use another 20 SPLIT days if s/he and her partner subsequently decide to enter the Shared Parental working arrangement. (Entry to Shared Parental Leave is dependent on eligibility, the correct notification procedure, agreement with the line manager and curtailment).

SPLIT days must be agreed by you and your line manager and are an optional arrangement on both sides. Line Managers are not obliged to provide SPLIT days and you do not have to work on such a day if you do not wish to do so. Before a SPLIT day is worked you must discuss with your manager the arrangements and basis on which the SPLIT day would be worked.

If you are entitled to receive statutory ShPP for any week during which you attend work for SPLIT days, you will still receive this in the usual way. In addition, we will pay for each hour worked during a SPLIT day at the normal contractual rate of pay for the hours worked which will be offset against the statutory ShPP.

To apply for a SPLIT day(s) please complete the SPLIT form. Your Line Manager will authorise and forward to the Absence Team for processing.

Following a period of shared parental leave totalling 26 weeks or less you have the right to return to the same job on no less favourable terms and conditions. The period of leave can include periods of maternity/paternity/adoption leave.

Where you take a period of leave amounting to more than 26 weeks you have the right to return to the same job unless not reasonably practicable. In these circumstances we must offer a suitable alternative role on no less favourable terms and conditions.

It will be assumed that you will return to work on the next working day after the date it has been agreed that the SPL will end (this will be the date which you have formally advised of in writing).

If you wish to return to work earlier than this, you must provide written notice to vary the leave and give 8 weeks’ notice of the early return date (this will count as one of the 3 notifications). If you have already used the three notifications to book and/or vary leave then your line manager does not have to accept the notice but may do so if it is considered to be reasonably practicable to do so.

If you are unable to return to work at the end of your SPL because of illness you will be entitled to sick pay, in accordance with the sickness absence policy, providing the sickness reporting procedures are followed.

If you want to take or create SPL (and Pay) for your partner to take, and have 2 (or more) jobs, you must have brought forward the date on which the Maternity/Adoption Leave period ends in each of the jobs either by returning to work or by giving notice to end the leave period (the notice must be given to each of your employers at the same time).

If the child is born/placed before their expected due date and you have booked to take SPL within the first eight weeks of the due date, you may take the same period of time off after the actual birth without having to provide eight weeks’ notice, by submitting a notice to vary your leave as soon as is reasonably practicable. Unlike most other variation notices, this would not count as one of the three notifications.

Any leave arranged after the first eight weeks of the due date is still bound by the eight week notice required to vary leave.

If the child is born or/placed more than eight weeks before the due date and the notice of entitlement to SPL and/or a notice to book SPL have not yet been given, then there is no requirement to give eight weeks’ notice before the period of leave starts. The notice should be given as soon as is reasonably practicable after the actual birth or placement.

In the event of the death of the child before the parents submit a notice of entitlement to take SPL then they cannot opt into SPL because a qualifying condition is caring for a child. The mother/primary adopter may remain entitled to maternity/adoption leave and the partner could still qualify for statutory paternity leave.

If the parents have opted into SPL and they have booked leave, they will still be entitled to take the booked leave. No further notice booking leave can be submitted and only one variation notice can be given to reduce a period of leave or to rearrange a discontinuous leave arrangement into a single block of leave.

An employee who is absent on SPL may cancel agreed SPL and return to work by giving the Authority eight weeks’ notice of their return to work.

If either parent dies, and the other parent is taking, or is entitled to SPL then they will continue to be eligible. Any SPL that was due to be taken by the deceased parent may be transferred to the other parent if the other parent is eligible for SPL.

Should it be necessary for the other parent to take a further period of SPL or to vary pre-agreed leave then notice may be given as soon as is reasonably practicable if eight weeks’ notice cannot be given. If they have already given three notices to take leave they must be allowed to submit one further notice to book/amend SPL.

You are not entitled to extra SPL or ShPP if you are expecting more than one child. The entitlements are, like maternity leave, the same as if you are expecting one child.

This also applies to multiple adoptions that occur in a single placement.

During SPL, all terms and conditions of your contract except normal pay will continue. We also provide the continuation of the benefits as outlined in the Shared Parental Leave and Pay Policy.

You will continue to accrue annual leave during Shared Parental leave. Individuals are encouraged to agree with their line manager when they intend to take annual leave before the start of Shared Parental leave. The leave can be taken before, after or between periods of Shared Parental Leave.

Whilst on a period of SPL all staff will also accrue bank holidays for any that fall during the period of the SPL. If a block of Shared Parental Leave crosses two leave years you may carry over annual leave accrued in the first leave year but must use these days within three months following the end of their SPL.

If you work on a term time only contract you are required to take your annual leave during periods of school closure.

You and your Line Manager should calculate the annual leave entitlement i.e. school holidays (closures) in the current annual leave year, leave taken prior to SPL commencing and assess whether any additional annual leave is owed (due to the accrual of leave during the rest of the current leave year on SPL.)

Where SPL crosses over from one annual leave year to another, you and your Line Manager should again ensure that any accrued annual leave on SPL in that leave year is offset against periods of school closure on return from SPL.

If there are insufficient school closures to accommodate outstanding annual leave you should be allowed to take the leave during term time immediately following your return or carry leave forward into the next leave year.

Pension contributions during a period of unpaid SPL will not be paid unless you elect to pay these in the form of an Additional Pension Contribution (APC).

If you wish to pay an APC and elects to do so within 30 days of returning to work, you will fund 1/3 and we will fund the other 2/3 of the cost. If you do not elect to pay an APC within 30 days of returning to work, you will solely be responsible for funding the pension contribution cost.

For further information on APC’s please visit the Dyfed Pension Fund website.

If you are a member of the Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS), and are in receipt of ShPP this will be counted as pensionable and pension contributions will continue to be deducted from ShPP. Contributions will be based on the pay received while absent. No contributions will be paid, by either you or us, during any period of unpaid SPL, and this will not be counted as pensionable employment.

For further information on the teacher’s pension scheme please contact Teachers Pensions directly.

If you decide not to return to work then you should resign in writing, giving the appropriate notice as required by your contract of employment.

Additional unpaid leave may be available to you under the provisions of the Authority’s parental leave policy, career break etc. Please refer to the time off policy for further information.

If you meet the qualifying conditions you have a right to make a request in line with the policy for flexible working.

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Page updated: 13/07/2020 11:22:08