September 29, 2014

Equal rights for the self employed

Shared parental leave

The Government has launched a “Technical Guide” to help employers navigate the law and procedure for parents who want to take Shared Parental Leave.

Parents of babies due to be born or adopted on or after April 5th 2015 will be able to share taking time off work to look after their child provided they meet certain eligibility criteria.

Shared parental leave allows a mother to return to work after taking at least two weeks compulsory maternity leave, and to share up to 50 weeks leave with her partner for the purpose of looking after their child.

To qualify for shared parental leave:

  • an employee must pass the “continuity of employment test” which means they must have worked for the same employer for at 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth, or in the case of adoption, must have been working for an employer for 26 weeks in the week when they were matched with a child for adoption. They must still be employed in the first week that shared parental leave is to be taken. The employee must share the responsibility of care of the child.
  • The other parent must meet the “employment and earnings test” which means they must have been employed or a self employed earner for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to the due date, or for 26 weeks prior to being matched for adoption, and must have earned more than £30 a week in 13 of the 66 weeks.

An employee must give an employer a written declaration confirming they are eligible. They must also provide a declaration from their partner that he or she meets the employment and earnings test and consents to the employee taking shared parental leave.

To qualify for shared parental pay: 

  • the parent must, as well as passing the continuity test, have earned an average salary of the lower earnings limit or more (currently £111) for the eight weeks' prior to the 15th week before the due date.

The maximum amount of shared parental leave that can be taken is 50 weeks, whilst shared parental pay covers a maximum period of 37 weeks.

Existing rules on maternity and ordinary paternity leave and pay remain the same. Additional paternity leave and pay is to be abolished.

The government has produced a 55 page document to guide employers on their obligations and responsibilities. For more information on our Employment Law services, please contact our specialist Employment & HR team.

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