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Shared Parental Leave: What does it mean for employers?

Posted by
20 Nov 2014
After 5th April 2015, parents will be entitled to shared parental leave if your baby is due on or after this date, or if you adopt a child on or after this date. This is to allow parents and adopters more flexibility in how they care for their child during the first year after birth or adoption.

If eligible, it means that following a compulsory 2 week maternity leave for the mother, parents will be eligible for up to a maximum of 50 weeks of shared parental leave. This can be taken in a number of blocks, so long as the relevant notice is provided to employers.

The shared parental leave regime is a fundamental change in the law for prospective parents who want to share the time they have with a new child, but how will the changes affect employers?

Regulations are due to come into force on 1st December 2014, which may mean that employers start getting formal notifications to take the leave from February 2015.

For employers, the complexity of the new system of shared parental leave may cause difficulties in relation to covering staffing for short periods of time, as well as costing time and money to implement the new scheme and creating an administrative burden.

Maternity, paternity and adoption policies will also need to be considered carefully, as not giving enhanced shared parental leave pay and benefits to partners may amount to sex discrimination.

Having returned from 9 months of maternity leave myself in April, it has been an interesting subject of discussion between my husband and I. For us, if we have any further children, I am unsure as to whether we would make use of the proposed changes in the law and in fact the Government are themselves predicting that only 2-8% of those eligible to the changes would use the shared parental leave.

Within the market in which we recruit to, it will certainly be interesting to see if shared parental leave will create an increased demand for interim staff to cover employees.

Will you be taking advantage of the changes? How will it affect your working life? Let us know in the comments box below.
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