Shared parental leave
From April 2015 there are new employment laws covering Shared Parental Leave.
In respect of babies expected on or after 5 April 2015 parents (including partners of the mother and adopters) will be able to share leave, subject to a limited right of objection from their employer.
Mothers take the first two weeks off work after the birth (four weeks if they do manual work) but after that they may return to work and give some or all of the remaining leave to the father/partner. They have to opt to give up their maternity pay and leave if they do this.
The employer will add up any maternity leave taken before the birth, plus the two or four weeks after the birth, and after deducting this from 52 weeks, the remainder will be available to share between the mother and father/partner.
Unlike normal maternity leave, either party can return to work sporadically, taking it in turns to look after the baby. Each parent may give a minimum of three leave requests to their employer. Continuous leave cannot be refused, but discontinuous leave, such as one week on, one week off etc may be refused by the employer. Notices requesting leave must be given to the employer at least eight weeks in advance.
Our advice to employers, especially those with only a few staff or with key people taking parental leave, is to discuss the position with the parents-to-be well in advance and try to plan the leave so that it is the least disruptive for all parties.