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As Shared Parental Leave becomes law. What will it mean for your business?

A new arrival in the family is always very exciting and for the first time couples are now able to share those early weeks by splitting what was traditional maternity leave.

As we strive towards equal pay and career opportunities for all, it is great to see that both parents now have the opportunity to share the responsibility of raising their children with support from their employer.

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) means that couples with babies due, or children matched or placed for adoption, on or after 5 April 2015 will be able to share leave equally. The rights apply to parents of babies born prematurely so don’t be caught out as the new rules could already apply.

What does this actually mean for you and your business? As the title suggests, eligible parents can elect to share up to 50 weeks of leave after the first two weeks of compulsory maternity leave. They can also share up to 37 weeks of pay. Both parents can suggest a flexible SPL pattern to their respective employers who will either agree to it or not.

The concept is simple and well-intended; however, SPL has attracted some criticism over the administrative headache it could create for employers and the potential additional cost.
The most controversial aspect of the new rules is the lack of obligation for employers to replicate any enhanced maternity benefits they already offer. The risk of indirect sex discrimination claims for employers who pay enhanced maternity benefits and choose not to offer enhanced benefits for SPL is set to increase.

Many of the big employers such as Deloitte, PWC and Shell have taken the lead and published their plans for offering enhanced shared parental pay. The Civil Service is offering employees a very generous 26 weeks’ full pay to be taken at any time during the first year.

It will be interesting to see how other employers implement SPL within their current family friendly policies and procedures and if this manages to encourage more couples to share leave following their new arrival.

To discuss how to implement your SPL policies contact Roisin Patton 

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