Parents can share parental leave if they have a baby

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A rule change in April 2015 means that you can share the leave you take for a new baby with your partner. Not only that, but you can take leave in blocks. How does it work?

The basic rules of shared parental leave
The change in the law will make it easier for parents to split parental leave. It means:

  • The mother must take two weeks of maternity leave. If she works in a factory, she would have to take four weeks of maternity leave. The rest of the 52 weeks’ leave could be shared between both parents, as long as they are eligible for shared parental leave.
  • The mother must take two weeks of maternity pay or Maternity Allowance. If she works in a factory, she would have to have four weeks of maternity pay or allowance.

SAVVY TIP: Shared parental leave will be able to be taken in up to three blocks.

Who’s eligible for shared parental leave?
In order to share your parental leave, you must both qualify. That means:

  • You must share care of your child It must be shared with your husband, wife, civil partner, joint adopter, the child’s other parent or your partner (if you live together).
  • You (or your partner) must qualify for maternity pay, Maternity Allowance or adoption pay and leave.
  • If you’re the one having the baby, you must have been employed for at least 26 weeks. This time period must be up until the end of the 15th week before your baby’s due date (or the date that you’re due to be matched with your adopted child).

SAVVY TIP: You must also be employed by the same employer while you take your shared parental leave.

– Your partner must have been employed: In the 66 weeks before your baby is due, he or she must have been employed for at least 26 weeks. But this doesn’t have to be in a row.

– Your partner must have been earning at least £30 a week for 13 weeks. This 13 week period is out of a total of the last 66 weeks, but doesn’t have to be in one go. He or she could have been working as an employee, self-employed or as an agency worker.

– Qualifying for shared parental pay. You will qualify for shared parental pay if you (as the mother) are eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP). You will also qualify if you are eligible for Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) and your partner qualifies for Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance or Statutory Adoption Pay.

How much parental pay will you get?
Shared Parental Pay is the same as Statutory Maternity Pay. That means that during first six weeks of maternity leave, Shared Parental Pay would be 90% of your weekly salary. After that it would be paid at 90% of earnings or £139.58 a week (in tax year 2016-17), whichever is lower. Parental pay would be based on the salary of the parent taking the leave at the time.

How do you start sharing your parental leave?
If you’re going to have or adopt a baby, you (as the mother) must either:

– End your maternity leave by going back to work

– Give a ‘binding notice’ that says you are ending your maternity leave

– End your maternity pay or Maternity Allowance

SAVVY TIP: You must give at least eight weeks’ notice to your employer or the Jobcentre plus, if you’re ending Maternity Allowance.

Taking your shared parental leave
You can take shared parental leave in up to three blocks and both parents can take their leave at the same time. However, parents will need to get permission from their employer before they split their parental leave.

SAVVY TIP: Where employers and parents couldn’t agree how leave should be split, paid parental leave would have to be taken in one continuous block.

Related articles:

Maternity leave and pay – how much will you get?

Maternity rights at work; what are your pregnancy rights at work?

What happens to your pension when you take maternity leave?

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