Shared parental leave hasn’t been around long and for many small employers it will not be something that has yet been requested very often. Here are the basic steps to handling a request when it comes your way.
1. Notice of entitlement and intention to take shared parental leave
Check the employee has given the right information in their notice of entitlement and intention. This should set out their eligibility for shared parental leave, and give notice that they intend to take it. It must be received at least eight weeks before their first intended period of shared parental leave.
It needs to contain information about their own eligibility, details of the date on which the child is expected to be born/adopted, how much leave they intend to take, and a declaration from their partner about their own eligibility and intentions.
2. Booking leave
Your employee should also formally ‘book’ their leave by sending you notification of leave they want to take. This might be one continuous block, or discontinuous blocks of leave. You might receive this booking notification at the same time as the notice of entitlement and intention above, as it also has to be received no later than eight weeks before the first block of leave. When you’ve received the booking, check the dates requested and start considering things like cover for the employee’s absence.
Consider meeting with the employee to discuss their plans. This isn’t compulsory but can be useful in terms of understanding what they want to do and discussing how their request might work, as well as ensuring they understand the procedure involved and their rights, including if they want to change their request at a later date.
At the meeting you could also discuss whether the employee will want to work any Shared Parental Leave In Touch (SPLIT) days during their leave, and what these could be used for.
It’s not specified in the legislation but as a matter of good practice and also for your own protection you should respond to a shared parental leave request in writing and should do this within 14 days. If the request was for a continuous block of leave this must be agreed, otherwise there may be modifications to be discussed/agreed. If the request is for discontinuous leave you are allowed to refuse the request if necessary but should attempt to agree alternative arrangements with your employee.
5. Allow amendments
As with maternity leave/adoption leave, it will not be unusual for employees to want to change their shared parental leave arrangements. If you receive a notification that an employee wants to vary or cancel a period of shared parental leave, you must allow this as long as they give no less than eight weeks’ notice of the change.
If you’d like to find out more about handling a shared parental leave request, do get in touch.