Not only is shared parental leave a fairly new thing, but because of the nature of it, understanding who is/isn’t entitled to it and how much leave they are allowed to take can be difficult. Here’s our quick guide to checking whether your employee can take shared parental leave.

Who is eligible for shared parental leave and pay?

Shared parental leave can only be used by the mother/main adopter, and either the father of the child (in the case of a birth), or the spouse, civil partner or partner of the child’s mother/main adopter.

Both parents taking shared leave must share the main responsibility for the care of the child at the time of the birth/placement for adoption.

Additionally any employee seeking to take SPL must satisfy each of the following criteria:

  • the mother/adopter of the child must be/have been entitled to statutory maternity/adoption leave or statutory maternity/adoption pay or maternity allowance;
  • the mother/adopter must have ended or given notice to reduce any maternity/adoption entitlements;
  • the employee must still be working for the organisation at the start of each period of SPL;
  • the employee must have a minimum of 26 weeks’ service at the end of the 15th week before the child’s expected due date/adoption matching date;
  • the employee’s partner must meet the ‘employment and earnings test’ requiring them in the 66 weeks leading up to the child’s expected due date/matching date have worked for at least 26 weeks and earned an average of at least the government’s current Maternity Allowance threshold a week in any 13 of those weeks.

What evidence do they need to provide?

Although employees seeking to take shared parental leave must meet (and their partner/spouse/other parent must meet) the above criteria, entitlement is something they need to check themselves. They then have to provide a declaration to their employer confirming that they meet the criteria and are therefore eligible.

Your employee must provide a notice of entitlement to SPL containing the following:

  • The names of both parents taking leave
  • The start and end date of any statutory maternity or adoption leave being taken in respect of the child
  • The total amount of shared parental leave available (this will depend on how much maternity or adoption leave is being taken)
  • The child’s expected week of birth/actual birth date or date of adoption placement
  • How much shared parental leave each parent intends to take
  • An indication of when they plan to take it
  • A signed statement from them, declaring;
    –  that they will be sharing responsibility for care of the child
    –  that the mother/main adopter has given notice to end maternity/adoption leave
    –  that they meet the continuity of employment test
    –  that the information they have given is accurate and
    –  confirming that if anything changes affecting their eligibility, they will inform you.
  • A further signed declaration from their partner stating;
    –  their name, address and national insurance number
    –  that they are the father/mother of the child or partner of the mother
    –  that they meet the criteria for the employment and earnings test
    –  (if the mother or main adopter) that they are entitled to statutory maternity/adoption leave/pay and that they have given notice to end it
    –  that they share responsibility for care of the child
    –  that they consent to the amount of leave your employee is planning to take
    –  that they consent to you processing the information in their declaration and
    –  (in the case of the mother/main adopter) that they will immediately inform their partner if anything changes affecting eligibility.

In what format should the notice of entitlement come?

It can come just as a letter, however as you can see from the list, it is quite involved, and therefore it would be easy for an employee to miss something, or for his/her partner not to make all the right declarations.

Therefore it might be a good idea to consider putting together a form for your staff to use, making sure it covers everything required, and making the whole process a bit more user-friendly for employees. This would have the added bonus of ensuring that checking entitlements would be easier for you, rather than having to wade through differently-worded and structured letters to see if everything is there.

Can you ask for any additional evidence?

Obviously although the criteria for eligibility are quite complex, any employer is heavily reliant on trusting both its employee and also the employee’s partner as well, because much of it is based around signed ‘declarations’ that the individuals meet those criteria. You are trusting that your employee’s partner has ended their maternity leave when they say they have, for example, and that they will tell you if anything changes affecting your employee’s eligibility.

Some employers feel uneasy about that and are interested in whether any additional evidence of eligibility can be sought. The options are limited, however you can ask to see the birth certificate of the child, and can also ask for contact details for the partner’s employer in order to verify eligibility.

Obviously contacting other employers represents an increased administrative burden, and you also need to bear in mind that self-employed partners may also meet the criteria. You should also ensure you are consistent about whether or not you contact other employers to avoid claims of unfair treatment.

 

If you’d like to find out more about handling a shared parental leave request, do get in touch.