Shared Parental Leave (SPL) is an opportunity for new parents to take advantage of some additional flexibility. Mothers and adopters can choose to end their maternity and adoption leave early and exchange it for SPL instead. This will give their partner an opportunity to share the remainder of their maternity or adoption leave entitlement.

How does it work?

Employees who are entitled to SPL will be able to take it in up to three separate blocks. This leave must be taken in complete weeks. Employees may choose to take the leave in a continuous period, which an employer cannot refuse. However, the leave can be taken in a discontinuous period, but this is at the discretion of the employer. The parents can choose between them how much SPL each of them will take. This time must be taken between the baby’s birth and first year. In the case of adoption, SPL must be taken within the first year of adoption.

What’s the difference between SPL and ShPP?

If your employees are eligible for SPL, they will also be entitled to Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). The ShPP rate is currently paid at £140.98 a week or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). If the eligible parents end their entitlement to maternity/adoption pay before they have used their full allowance, then ShPP can be claimed for any remaining weeks.

Do I have to offer SPL?

New parents must meet a range of eligibility criteria to qualify for SPL. You may refuse SPL if your employees do not meet these criteria:

·        The mother, or adopter, must be an employee of your business

·        The employee must have worked with you continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date (or date they matched with their adopted child)

·        The employee will be obliged to pass the continuity of employment test and the partner must pass the employment and earnings test

·        They must be entitled to maternity or adoption leave entitlement from your business

·        They must have given notice of their intentions to end their maternity and adoption leave entitlement

What can it mean for my business?

In terms of how SPL affects businesses, the consensus seems to be positive. The increased flexibility gives women the opportunity to return to work earlier, if they wish. It also improves employee engagement and staff loyalty, as new parents are given more time to bond with their newborns.

However, preparation is key. Smaller businesses may struggle to manage the changes in Shared Parental Leave specifically. Finding a replacement within the initial notice period of SPL could be a significant hurdle, especially with time accounted for recruitment and training.

The SPL notice requests may prove challenging for small businesses, as the absences are lengthy and could be either continuous or discontinuous.  Investing in software that can meet the demands of the administration of SPL sooner rather than later is strongly advised, as this will help to manage and measure the complexity of the absence.

How do I develop a SPL policy?

When you invest in YourHR.space we make sure you have an SPL policy and that this is in line with your requirements (and current legislation).

Our experienced HR team will also ensure you have policies covering all the other Family Friendly rights – from maternity, paternity, parental leave and flexible working.

To find out more please call Practical HR on 01702 216573 or email paula@practical-hr.co.uk