Shared Parental Leave will enable eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed for adoption. This could involve returning to work for part of the time and then resuming leave at a later date. Read on for information on what employers need to know about Shared Parental leave changes from April 2015.

Shared Parental Leave – Key points

• Qualifying mothers and adopters continue to be entitled to Maternity and Adoption rights but they may also be able to choose to end this early and exchange it for Shared Parental Leave and Pay. They and their named partner will then need to decide how they want to share this new entitlement.
• Two weeks of paid Paternity Leave continues to be available to qualifying fathers and the partner of a mother or adopter. However, Shared Parental Leave has replaced the Additional Paternity Leave entitlement.
• These regulations came into force on 1 December 2014 and apply to eligible parents where a baby is due, or a child is placed for adoption, on or after 5 April 2015.

Keeping track of employees’ entitlements

Now that employees have up to the child’s 18th birthday to take their entitlement, keeping track of how much leave an employee has already taken might become more of an issue for employers.

To know how much ordinary parental leave an employee can take, the employer needs to know how much he or she has already taken with previous employers. There is no duty on employers to keep records of this, or to provide this information if requested by a subsequent employer; however we would suggest that it is a question posed when requesting a reference.

Obtaining evidence of an employee’s parental leave record, which could go back almost 18 years, will be impossible in many cases, so employers will have to trust their employees to be honest about how much ordinary parental leave they have taken with previous employers.

However, given that ordinary parental leave is unpaid and cannot be taken in the first year of employment with a new employer, it is unlikely that this will be an issue that will cause too many problems for employers.

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