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First parents now becoming eligible for Shared Parental Leave

If you've just heard you're expecting a baby - congratulations. You could be among the first to be able to make use of Shared Parental Leave (SPL).

The new rules apply to couples whose babies are due on or after 5th April 2015, and people adopting from the same date.

Eligible couples will have the option to share the mother's maternity leave or the adopter's adoption leave and so may consider what arrangements best suit their circumstances. They could choose to share the caring responsibilities evenly or could decide to have one parent taking the main caring role.

Who's eligible?

The Government reckons around 285,000 working couples will be eligible to share parental leave from April 2015.

To qualify, a mother or adopter must have ended, or have given notice reducing, their maternity or adoption entitlements to enable them to share any remaining leave and pay with their partner.

In addition to ending maternity or adoption entitlements, there's a two-step process to establish a parent's eligibility to take SPL.

Continuity test

First is a continuity test, whereby any parent seeking to take SPL must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the week in which the child is due. The parent must still be employed in the first week that Shared Parental Leave is to be taken.

Employment and earnings test

Second is a employment and earnings test where the partner of the parent seeking to take SPL must have worked for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to the due date and have earned above £30 per week in 13 of the 66 weeks.

Eligibility for pay

If the mother or adopter was entitled to receive maternity or adoption pay or maternity allowance and they end their entitlement early then parents may be entitled to any remaining weeks being paid to them as Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). A parent seeking to claim ShPP must fulfil the continuity test and earn on average at least £111 per week for the 8 weeks before the 15th week before the due week. Their partner must again fulfil the employment and earnings test.

Acas publications and services

Acas experts can visit your organisation and help you develop effective policies for Parents and carers in your workplace.

'All you need to know about Shared parental leave is a training course that tells you what to expect from this change in Maternity, paternity and adoption legislation, including eligibility and notification, responding to requests, and how to develop a policy to manage the process.

Acas has published guidance and information covering the key points about Shared parental leave and pay on its website.

For free, impartial advice on any employment relations issue, call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100, or consult Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.


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