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Shared Parental Leave and Pay

Volume 571: debated on Friday 29 November 2013

We are introducing a new system of shared parental leave through the Children and Families Bill, which is currently before Parliament, and secondary legislation. It is our intention that the new system be workable and easy to manage for both employers and employees.

Today, I am publishing the Government’s response to the consultation on the administration of shared parental leave and pay which sets out the final detail on how the system will work in practice and the processes that will need to be followed.

We intend to:

require employees to provide employers with a non-binding indication at the outset of when they expect to take shared parental leave and at least eight weeks’ notice of any leave they will actually be taking;

introduce a fixed limit on the number of notifications an employee can give to take shared parental leave. The number of notifications will be capped at three (the first notification and two further notifications or changes). This will be in addition to the notification of entitlement and the non-binding indication of when they expect to take the leave when parents opt into shared parental leave. We will make provisions for changes that are mutually agreed between the employer and employee to not count towards the cap;

set the cut-off point for taking shared parental leave at 52 weeks following birth (or adoption);

create a new provision for each parent to have up to 20 days to support them in returning to work—parents will be able to use these days to return to work on a part-time basis and will be in addition to the 10 “keeping in touch” (KIT) days available during maternity leave;

maintain the right to return to the same job for employees returning from any period of leave that includes maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave that totals 26 weeks or less in aggregate; even if the leave is taken in discontinuous blocks. Any subsequent leave will attract the right to return to the same job, or if that is not reasonably practicable, a similar job.

We also intend to:

align the notification periods for paternity leave and pay;

protect mothers who give binding notice to opt into shared parental leave prior to giving birth, by introducing a right to revoke the notice up to six weeks following birth;

produce guidance to encourage employees who qualify under the new fostering-for-adoption placement process to give employers as much warning as possible.

I have arranged for copies to be put in the House Libraries.