February 19, 2015
With just eight weeks to go until new rules on Shared Parental Leave (SPL) come into force, parents with babies due on or after 5 April 2015 should now give their employers 8 weeks’ notice of the pattern of leave they intend to take. The estimated 285,000 working couples a year who are expected to be eligible can start sharing up to 50 weeks of parental leave after 5 April and expectant parents need to have that all-important conversation with their employers. Acas has published a new free guide on Shared Parental Leave to help employers and employees understand how these new changes will affect them and how to manage leave requests fairly. They advise that eligible employees and their employers need to start having early discussions about the different options available so that preparing and planning the leave is as straightforward as possible.
Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson said: “Shared Parental Leave will kick start a change where fathers feel empowered to take time off to look after their kids and not feel constrained by outdated stereotypes.
“We recognise that this isn’t going to be easy for those at the forefront of the change but we also know that for many dads the nerves they feel about having a conversation with their boss around leave will be worth it in the end.
She added: “Countless research studies show that more time with dads early on leads to better outcomes for children, not to mention the special family bond it creates. We also know that many employers are incredibly supportive and keen to offer mums and dads more flexibility. Employers will see the benefit in terms of staff loyalty and providing women the option to return to work earlier.
“That’s why employers like Shell, Deloitte, Linklaters, PwC and the civil service are offering parents enhanced shared parental pay in line with their maternity packages.”
To help parents understand their rights and responsibilities, BIS and Acashave a top tips guide to Shared Parental Leave:
- the first thing to do is make sure you are eligible for Shared Parental Leave, which you can do by accessing Acas’ quick and easy online tool
- talk to your partner before speaking to your employer. The combinations are flexible so make sure they fit around your life and work for you as a couple. Maybe you want to double up in the early days for extra support or you might decide to tag-team halfway through – the choice is yours
- have the conversation with your employer as early as you can. The sooner you do, the easier it will be to make plans for your time away from the work. Remember you have to give your employer at least 8 weeks’ notice of your intention to take Shared Parental Leave
- check to see if your employer offers an enhanced package (a package over and above statutory), and if they do, what type of package it is
- most importantly, know your rights. No employers can opt out of Shared Parental Leave if you are eligible
For more information – see the Acas new free guide on Shared Parental Leave