Media Briefing Note: Changes to Shared Parental Leave Proposals Will Benefit Employers, Says Hogan Lovells

LONDON, 29 November 2013 - The Government today issued a response to its consultation on the administration of Shared Parental Leave and Pay. Shared parental leave is expected to come into force in 2015, and is being introduced by the Children and Families Bill currently going through Parliament.

Commenting on the proposals Ed Bowyer, partner in Hogan Lovells' employment team, said:

"When the Government released its initial proposals on how Shared Parental Leave will operate there was some concern amongst businesses about how the new right would work in practice. The degree of flexibility envisaged, with parents being able to make an unlimited number of requests to take what could be short periods of shared parental leave, gave rise to a great deal of uncertainty.

"The changes to the original proposals address some of those concerns. Employers will welcome the limit that has been placed on the number of requests for shared parental leave that can be made. The fact that employees will also have to provide a non-binding plan of how they are intending to use their Shared Parental Leave entitlement will also reduce the amount of uncertainty for employers.However the overall scheme remains fairly complex and we look forward to seeing the draft secondary legislation which will provide further detail of how shared parental leave will work in practice".

Key points to note in the Government's response include:

  • Employees will have to give eight weeks' notice of their intention to opt in to the shared parental leave system and of any request for leave.
  • A woman can give notice of her intention to bring her maternity leave to an end at a specified point, which would free up the remaining maternity leave period to be taken as shared parental leave. This notice can be given before the birth. A woman will have a six week period following the birth to revoke the notice if she wants to change her mind about bringing her maternity leave to an end early.
  • When a couple opt-in to the shared parental leave system they will have to give a non-binding indication of how they are intending to take shared parental leave. This is intended to give employers more certainty about the pattern of shared parental leave that is likely to be taken.
  • A maximum of three notifications of shared parental leave (or changes to shared parental leave) will be able to be given. Again, this is designed to give employers a greater degree of certainty (in contrast with the original proposals, where no cap on the number of notifications was envisaged).
  • Shared parental leave will have to be taken within 52 weeks of a child's birth, reflecting the position under the right to APL.
  • 20 "KIT" days will be available to each parent during shared parental leave. This will be in addition to the KIT days a woman can take during maternity leave. KIT days during shared parental leave will be given a new name, to avoid confusion with maternity KIT days.
  • The right to return to the same job will apply to employees returning from any period of leave that includes maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave that totals 26 weeks or less in aggregate, even if the leave is taken is discontinuous blocks.

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