Shared Parental Leave and the championing of Father
Shared Parental Leave is a new legal entitlement for eligible parents of babies due on or after 5th April 2015. It provides both parents with the opportunity to consider the best arrangements to care for their new baby in the child’s first year.
At present, fathers have an entitlement of two weeks paternity leave, including statutory pay for those who have completed 26 weeks continuous employment with the company. Some businesses offer additional payment during these two weeks, but it is not mandatory.
Championing the involvement of fathers in the early stages of their child’s life, the England Rugby international, Ben Foden, is leading a government drive to encourage more men to play a greater part in their baby’s life by splitting parental leave of up to a year, as now available with Shared Parental Leave. In addition to nurturing a stronger bond between father and child, the aim of the campaign is to remove the traditional perception of women as largely responsible for staying at home and looking after the baby.
However, critics argue that many fathers are likely to be inhibited from taking up their new entitlement to share parental leave for financial reasons.
The new regulations also appear complicated, which many new parents will find off-putting. For instance, separate blocks of leave can be turned down by employers, despite having to allow leave to be taken in one block.
A parent wishing to take Shared Parental Leave is required to satisfy the continuity of employment test and their partner must meet the employment and earnings test.
o Continuity of employment is when the employee has worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the baby’s expected due date.
o Employment and earnings test refers to the 66 weeks leading up to the baby’s expected due date, the father has worked for at least 26 weeks and earned an average of at least £30 a week in any 13 weeks.
Administratively there are challenges ahead when it comes to implementing Shared Parental Leave guidelines and integrating it with the day-to-day running of the business. However, if the obstacles are overcome – as expected – the new law will allow employed fathers to really embrace the early stages of their child’s life as never before – including, of course, changing nappies!
If any of the issues raised in this article affect your business, please give us a call to discuss your options. We are happy to advise and find a solution that works for you and your business: 0800 912 7152