Introduction to Shared Parental Leave [Video]Posted in : Back to Basics on 25 May 2016
The Work and Families (Northern Ireland) Act 2015 introduced the concept of shared parental leave and also removed the additional paternity leave entitlement which had been in place beforehand. A mother who has a child has the right to 52 weeks of maternity leave, 2 weeks of which is compulsory leave following the birth of the child.
Under the Work and Families Northern Ireland Act there's now the ability to split the remaining 50 weeks between herself and her partner. Leave which can be taken can be taken in blocks of week-long periods and it can be up to three blocks throughout the period of shared parental leave.
This could be split up 25 weeks at the same time and both partners being off, or it could be 25 weeks for 1 partner and then 25 weeks thereafter, or it could be split up in another way which suits the couple in a better way.
Notice needs to be given to the employer by the mother. This is known as a curtailment notice. In the curtailment notice she needs to confirm that she's no longer going to use her maternity leave and wants to share that period of leave.
The curtailment notice confirms the name of her partner, the start and end date of any maternity leave, the total amount of leave remaining, and also a declaration from her partner that he has child-caring responsibilities, details of his national insurance number, details of his employer, and also that he agrees with the mother in taking shared parental leave.
Any request for shared parental leave needs to be made in writing, eight weeks before the leave is taken. During the period of leave, pay is available and it's at the same rate as maternity pay is. This is 90% of pay for the first 6 weeks and then £139.58. This is payable for 39 weeks only. The remaining period of leave of the 52 weeks remains unpaid.
In practice we have found there's been a very low uptake in the number of employees who are taking shared parental leave. Where we've seen it most regularly where a mother is a high earner and it makes more economic sense for the couple to use it in this way.
You should have a policy and procedure in place dealing with these issues so that, when an employer seeks to come to you, then you are in position to deal with those matters.This article is correct at 25/05/2016
The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.