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22nd January 2015

Shared Parental Leave Regulations Come Into Effect

New regulations regarding Shared Parental Leave (SPL) are now in force.

The new rules, which apply to couples with babies due or children matched or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015, will allow parents to choose whether they want to share the mother’s maternity leave.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has said that it expects there to be as many as 285,000 working couples who will be eligible to share leave from April 2015.  BIS has also stated that the changes in how maternity leave can be used will kick start a culture change in workplaces where fathers feel more confident in taking time off for childcare.

Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said:

“The new Shared Parental Leave rules will give real choice to parents. We all know that every family has its own unique set of circumstances, and Shared Parental Leave reflects that reality.

“Up until now, families have had very limited options when it comes to juggling the demands of work with the arrival of a new baby. The old maternity leave system reinforced the archaic assumptions that the bulk of childcare responsibilities should be done by mums, and failed to recognise the vitally important role that dads and partners have to play.

“Mothers and adopters will be able to choose when they return to work and fathers and partners will be able to spend more time bonding with their children during the precious early stages of their development.”

Under the new rules, mums will still take at least 2 weeks of maternity leave immediately after birth, but after that working couples have the opportunity to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay.

Acas Chair Sir Brendan Barber said:

“Many employers recognise that they can retain talented staff by offering a flexible approach to work and a healthy work life balance can help business success and growth.

“Shared Parental Leave will enable working parents to share maternity or adoption leave to allow both parents greater involvement with their child’s first year whilst employers have the potential to remain productive by agreeing new arrangements that work for their organisations.”

Acas has published a new free guide on Shared Parental Leave to help employers and employees understand how the new changes will affect them and how to manage leave requests fairly.  Copies of the guide are available from the following URL:

http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4911

It is recommended that employers update their policies and procedures to include the new right to shared parental leave.  Lighthouse clients should contact their Employment Law advisor for further assistance.

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