Intricate rules over the eligibility for shared parental leave are leaving employers in the dark – with concerns over information security and legal challenges to new maternity benefits.

As of the 5th of April 2015 new regulations came into place which means that additional paternity leave no longer exists and anyone due to give birth or adopt, will now be able to share their leave with their partner, known as ‘Shared Parental Leave’. It will be mandatory that the mother takes 2 weeks off, however the 50 weeks leave and 37 weeks of statutory parental pay which will be left can now be shared. This can be taken at the same time, separately or in a series of blocks, if their employer is in agreement.

This liberal legislation could lead the cause of achieving better equality in the workplace as dads will now receive extra reason to spend this valuable time with their children. It does however appear confusing and there are some big question marks over the level of uptake as the TUC has given an estimate that two out of five fathers will not be eligible, due to their partner not being in paid work.

So how do you know if fathers are eligible?

Requirements:

• The baby must be due or adopted on or after 5th April 2015

• The mother must take a minimum of 2 weeks maternity leave (4 if she is a factory worker). The leave which is left can now be shared between parents.

The mother must be:

• Eligible for maternity pay or allowance or adoption leave of pay

• Have been employed for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the child’s due date(or date they are matched with their adopted child)

• Still be employed by you at the time they take Shared Parental Leave

• Accurate in giving the correct notice (8 weeks)

• Willing to declare that their partner also meets the employment and income requirements for Shared Parental Leave (See below)

The mother’s partner must also qualify. They must have:

• Worked at least 26 weeks from the last 66 weeks

• Earned at least £30 a week on average in 13 of the week’s.

How do you start Shared Parental Leave?

• The mother has to end their maternity leave/adoption leave by returning to work

• Curtailment Notice must be given to the employer of the date that they intend that their maternity/adoption leave will end

• Maternity pay/allowance must end

• For the partner this can start while the mother/adopter is still on maternity/adoption leave as long as bindging notice for the leave (or pay If she is not entitles to leave) to end has been given.

For further details on Shared Parental Leave or if you find your Employee Handbook requires a policy update to satisfy the new legislation please contact Solve.

From 1st October 2014 new rules come into force which will enable fathers to be and partners of pregnant women to take time off for antenatal appointments.  The Children and Families Act 2014 aims to give employees more flexibility so that it is not just pregnant women who are entitled to time off.

The new rules allow a prospective father or other qualifying person to take time off work to attend two antenatal appointments (maximum of six and a half hours each).

Under the new act, which amends the Employment Rights Act 1996, there is no continuous period of employment required to qualify so this statutory right will be available to employees and agency workers from the start of their employment.

Employees are deemed to have a ‘qualifying relationship’ with a woman or her expected child if:

• They are the pregnant woman’s husband or civil partner.

• They live with the woman (whether in a heterosexual or same sex relationship) in an enduring family relationship and are not a relative of the woman.

• They are the expected child’s father.

• They are one of a same sex couple who is to be treated as the child’s other parent under the assisted reproduction provisions in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.

• They are the potential applicant for a Parental Order in relation to a child who is expected to be born to a surrogate mother.

• Under the new rules the employers are entitled to request documentary evidence of an appointment. The employee must provide a written declaration stating:

• The qualifying relationship they have with the pregnant woman or expected child.

• The purpose of taking the time off is specifically to attend an antenatal appointment.

• The appointment has been made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or nurse.

• The date and time of the appointment.

Where it is reasonable to do so, an employer has the right to refuse time off. However the legislation does not specify when this might be the case which may make it difficult for an employer to justify a refusal.

Employers are not obliged to pay employees for time off to attend antenatal appointments unless otherwise agreed. Unlike the rights of pregnant women who are paid their normal hourly rate whilst taking time off to attend antenatal appointments.

For further information or advice on this new legislation please contact us at Solve HR.