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Government reforms (2): Shared parental leave

shared parental leave - man with childWhat do we already know?

In November 2012 the Government announced that it intended to introduce a new system of statutory parental rights to allow both partners to take leave at the same time for babies due on or after 5 April 2015.  This has become known as ‘shared parental leave’.

Shared parental leave will allow eligible mothers and their partners to be absent from work to care for a child for up to 52 weeks (with shared parental pay for 39 of those weeks).  The basics are:

The Government consulted on the new system and sought views on how the administration of the new right would operate in practice.  The Government published its response to the consultation on 29 November 2013.  We reported on this in our December 2013 Newsletter Government reforms(1): shared parental leave.

What is the news?

The Government has now published draft regulations on the new shared parental leave and pay regime, on which it is seeking views.  The regime is available for births and adoptions from April 2015. The Bill is intended to receive Royal Assent on 21 March 2014 and in theory the final version of the regulations could be laid any time after that.

The draft regulations reflect the Government’s response to its consultation last year and are lengthy and complicated: containing lots of detail about entitlement to shared leave and pay; the mechanics of requesting and taking leave; terms and conditions during leave and on return to work; redundancy; KIT days and protection from detriment and unfair dismissal.

The key points are:

What do we think?

Although undeniably good news for modern working couples and probably for society as a whole, shared parental leave will no doubt cause headaches for employers.

Issues will no doubt arise around agreeing patterns of leave and the complexity of combining shared parental leave with other family-related rights.

We had been looking forward to the draft regulations providing some clarity on the proposals and an untying of the knot of complexity.  However, the regulations are so complex that it may be some time before it is really clear how shared parental leave will work in practice.  If and when this happens we’ll be sure to update you.

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