Employers will need to start updating their policies and procedures to comply with the incoming shared parental leave legislation as employees start to discover their eligibility.
Under the new rules, which take effect from December 2014, parents will be able to share 12 months’ leave after the birth of their child.
Employees who discover they are pregnant and are due to give birth after 5 April 2015 can start sending their employers a notice of eligibility and the intention to take shared parental leave.
Simon Kerr-Davis, managing associate at law firm Linklaters, said: “There are a lot of hoops to go through to understand who is eligible. Employees can notify employers of their intentions now, but will need to notify them again with a formal request in December.”
Not all parents will be eligible, so employers will need to know who is, in order to develop a clear policy on shared parental leave for managers and staff, which is applied consistently, and assess likely take-up and budgetary implications.
Other matters include how employers will answer queries from employees, determine their entitlement to shared parental leave pay, which can be recouped from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), as well as decide what evidence (if any) there is of an employee’s eligibility to request.
Entitlement will depend on each parent meeting eligibility requirements.
For a mother to qualify for shared parental leave and pay, she must be entitled to maternity or adoption leave, or statutory maternity or adoption pay or maternity allowance, and must share the main responsibility for caring for the child with the child’s father or her partner.
Esther Smith, employment partner at law firm TLT, said: “Employers need to start getting to grips with shared parental leave regulations pretty soon.
“Those that have recently discovered that they are expecting will be affected by the new regulations, and employers need to act now to make sure they have updated their policies and procedures to reflect the changes.”