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Acas publishes suite of practical tools on shared parental leave for new working mums

Sunday 15 March 2015

Workplace experts Acas has today published a suite of practical tools and top tips to help expectant working mums take advantage of new shared parental leave rights.

Shared parental leave (SPL) is a new legal right which allows couples to share maternity or adoption leave and pay from 5 April 2015. Working mothers and partners who are finding out now that they are expecting a child will be among the first parents eligible to take advantage of these new rights.

Acas Chair Sir Brendan Barber said:

"I want to wish all working mums and new mums-to-be a very happy Mother's Day today. Acas has published a new series of official forms and sample letters to help mothers and their partners who are interested in taking shared parental leave but are unsure on how to do it.

"Our new suite of free tools shows employees how to prove that they are eligible and entitled to shared parental leave alongside template letters on how to officially book this leave.

"As workplace experts, we want to make sure that both employers and employees are prepared for these new rights and we have also published a free guide on shared parental leave, which includes advice for employers on how to deal with SPL requests fairly."

To celebrate Mother's Day, Acas has produced a set of top tips for working mums and new mums-to-be:

  • Check to make sure that you are eligible for shared parental leave. This online calculator can help GOV.UK - Calculate your leave and pay when you have a child.
  • Talk to your partner before speaking to your employer. There are many different combinations that are possible with SPL and you will need to make sure they fit around your life and work for you as a couple. You may want to double up in the early days for extra support, tag-team halfway through or do several swaps - the choice is yours.
  • You have to give your employer at least eight weeks notice of your intention to take shared parental leave so have a conversation with your employer as early as you can. The sooner you do, the easier it will be to make plans for your time away from work.
  • Read Acas' free guidance to help you understand these changes and download the template forms and letters that will help you put in a request - Shared parental leave and pay.

According to estimates from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), there are expected to be around 285,000 working couples who will be eligible to share their leave from April.

The forms and template letters published today cover surrogate parents, adopters and mothers who are entitled to maternity or adoption leave. These tools and Acas' full guidance Shared Parental Leave: A good practice guide for employers and employees are available at Shared parental leave and pay.

Notes to Editors

  1. The shared parental leave system will give parents more choice and freedom in how they share the care of their child in the first year after birth. More is available from the Shared parental leave and pay page. Only eligible employees can apply for shared parental leave.
  2. Shared parental leave (SPL) overview:
    Rather than assume a mother or primary adopter will take the main caring role, SPL provides both parents with the opportunity to consider what the best arrangement is for them to care for their child during the first year.
    The regulations give eligible parents the right to take SPL and place a duty on employers to ensure that their employees are not put under pressure to cancel/change their requests or suffer any detriment for giving notice to take leave, or for taking the leave itself.
    Parents may be entitled to take up to 50 weeks SPL. The amount of leave available is calculated using the mother's entitlement to maternity or adoption leave which allows them to take up to 52 weeks leave. If they end their maternity or adoption leave early then they and/or the other parent may opt-in to the SPL system and take any remaining weeks as SPL.
    This means parents can share the caring responsibilities evenly or one parent could take on the main caring role, depending on their preferences and circumstances. Additionally, SPL allows both parents to take leave to care for the child at the same time.
    Using SPL arrangements, mothers may choose not to take as much leave as they previously did, or might not want to take all their leave in one long block. The ability of an employee to share leave with their partner and return to work between periods of leave means employers need not lose valuable experience for a prolonged period.
    Early conversations between the employer and employee will help establish what leave is being considered and to suggest what arrangements would work best for everyone. This means that employers can be much clearer, much sooner, about what leave their employee is planning.
  3. Acas is running courses on shared parental leave for employers around the country - Shared parental leave and pay.
  4. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. We support good relationships between employers and employees which underpin business success. We also provide good value, high quality training and tailored advice to employers. Our expertise is based on millions of contacts with employers and employees each year. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.
  5. Shared parental leave and pay comes into effect for babies due on or after 5 April 2015, or adoptions where the child is placed on or after 5 April.
  6. Under the scheme, working couples will be able to share untaken maternity leave and pay, following the first two weeks recovery period that mothers have to take off after birth, so up to 50 weeks leave and 37 weeks of pay can be shared.
  7. The pattern of leave must be agreed between the employer and employee, with eight weeks' notice. Parents can take leave at the same time, so they can be at home together from the birth if this arranged.
  8. A sample policy on shared parental leave for employers and  template letters for both employers and employees on how to request and handle SPL requests can be downloaded at Shared parental leave and pay.
  9. For media enquiries please contact Shumon Ali-Rahman, Senior Media and PR Manager on 0207 210 3688 / For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 020 7210 3600.