SPL will enable eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed for adoption. This could mean that the mother or adopter shares some of the leave with her partner, perhaps returning to work for part of the time and then resuming leave at a later date.
It is designed to give parents more flexibility in how to share the care of their child in the first year following birth or adoption. Parents will be able to share a pot of leave (of up to 50 weeks) and can decide to be off work at the same time and/or take it in turns to have periods of leave to look after their child.
The regulations come into force on 1 December 2014. The options to use the new SPL rights will apply for parents who meet the eligibility criteria, where a baby is due to be born on or after 5 April 2015, or for children who are placed for adoption on or after that date. Employers could start to receive notices of eligibility and the intention to take SPL from qualifying employees from January 2015.
The Key Issues are:
- Employed mothers will continue to be entitled to 52 weeks of Maternity Leave and 39 weeks of Statutory Maternity Pay.
- If she chooses to do so, an eligible mother can end her maternity leave early and, with her partner or the child’s father, opt for SPL instead of Maternity Leave. If they both meet the qualifying requirements, they will need to decide how they want to divide their SPL and Pay entitlement.
- Paid Paternity Leave of two weeks will continue to be available to fathers and a mother’s or adopter’s partner, however Additional Paternity Leave will be removed (SPL will replace it).
- Adopters will have the same rights as other parents to SPL and pay.