Shared parental leave: consultation

shared parental leaveOn 25 February 2013 the Government published a consultation document, available here, seeking views on how the shared parental leave scheme (to be introduced in 2015) should be administered. Previously this was known as ‘flexible parental leave’, but the name has now been changed to avoid confusion with other flexible working legislation. We looked at this reform more fully in our November 2012 newsletter (Family friendl(ier): working on the childcare conundrum…)

The intention is to “achieve fully shared childcare from day one” of a child’s life. This is to be done by fully sharing the old 52-week maternity leave period (restricted to just the mother) between both parents. In essence, from 2015, after the initial two weeks’ compulsory maternity leave which must be taken by the mother, the ‘eligible’ parents will be able to convert all the remaining 50 weeks of maternity leave and pay into ‘shared parental leave’ and share it between them – taking it in turns or taking time off simultaneously.

The consultation closes on 17 May 2013 and the Government intends to publish its response in “late summer”.

The Consultation poses a number of questions on some of the more technical aspects of the proposals:

  • Agreeing patterns of leave: what time period should be allocated for negotiating and agreeing patterns of leave?
  • Flexibility: should notification of parental leave arrangements be fixed, once requested, or should there be scope to vary the leave? If so, how much notice should be given of any change?
  • Information required: should any information be requested from employees over and above their basic details and the leave and pay levels available to them – for example, should evidence of eligibility, or details of the other party’s employer, be made available so that checks can be carried out by employers?
  • Time Limits: what should be the cut-off point be for using shared parental leave or pay entitlements: 52 weeks from the start of the maternity leave or from the birth of the child?
  • ‘Keeping in Touch’ days: how would the allocation of KIT days required per parent be interpreted under the proposed arrangements?
  • Right to return to the same job: how should this principle be applied in relation to shared parental leave and pay?