Shared Parental Leave

by | Jun 6, 2023 | HR Resources

If you’re expecting the pitter-patter of tiny feet sometime soon, adopting a child, fostering a child or using a surrogate to have a baby, the impact on your finances will certainly be on your list of things to consider. So have you considered Shared Parental Leave and how it could benefit you and your partner?

What is it?

Whilst common in Scandinavian countries, Shared Parental Leave (SPL) only arrived in the UK in 2015 and is the process by which you can share the full joint entitlement of maternity and paternity leave with your partner, or up to 50 weeks leave and up to 37 weeks pay in the first year after your child is born or after your child is placed with your family.

You have the option to take SPL all in one go, or in blocks separated by work and you can take the time off together or stagger it to provide cover. There’s a wealth of information on which you will find useful, but here are a few of our thoughts:

Why does it benefit employees?

Whilst we appreciate this is a generalised statement, often the cultural expectation in the UK is for the child’s mother to be the parent taking leave to look after the new arrival which is at odds with today’s switch towards shared parenting. 

SPL nurtures the relationship and bond both parents have with the child; it can improve the marital or cohabiting relationship and can boost confidence when making important parenting decisions.

Financial Implications of Taking Shared Parental Leave

SPL may impact your household budget. During the SPL period, eligible parents are entitled to receive statutory pay, which is usually lower than their normal salary. Typically we, therefore, see decisions being made for the lower-income earner to take SPL.

How does it benefit employers?

A happy employee is a more productive employee, that’s not new news, so by offering and encouraging SPL, you will find you have a happier and more engaged employee, and why wouldn’t you want that?

The standard time off on maternity leave is around 52 weeks, which can leave an employee feeling left out of the loop and anxious about a return. By offering shared parental leave, not only do you embrace gender equality in the workplace, you offer better work-life flexibility, leading to improved productivity and helping you to retain your talented team. 

How does it differ from Maternity Leave?

Quite simply, the clue is in the SPL title; it’s Shared Parental Leave and so the leave is shared between the two parents. It’s estimated that only around 2% of parents opt for this, in part because of cultural expectations but also because of a lack of knowledge. That’s where we come in.

Notifying of Shared Parental Leave

The process of notifying and taking SPL is in line with other statutory leave processes and we recommend having a policy in place to document this. Keep the lines of communication open, acknowledge the leave request in writing – note the mother has to give her employer ‘binding notice’ – there are some procedures and rules surrounding this. Check-in with the employee prior to the leave-taking place and ensure you contact the employee just prior to their return to the workplace after leave to arrange for a smooth transition back into work..   

If you don’t have a Shared Parental Leave Policy in place please get in touch.

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