Shared parental leave policy

1. What is Shared Parental Leave (SPL)

1.1 SPL is a new legal entitlement for parents of babies due, or children placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015. It provides both parents with the opportunity to consider the best arrangement to care for their child during the child’s first year.

1.2 SPL means that the mother or adopter could share some of the leave with her partner, perhaps returning to work for part of the time and then resuming leave at a later date.

1.3 Adopters will have the same rights as other parents to Shared Parental leave and pay.

1.4 If she chooses to do so, a mother can end her maternity leave early and, with her partner or the child's father, opt for Shared Parental Leave instead of Maternity Leave. If they both meet the qualifying requirements, they will need to decide how they want to divide their Shared Parental Leave and Pay entitlement.

1.5 SPL can be:

  • Taken by the partner while the mother is still on maternity / adoption leave if the mother reduces her entitlement to maternity / adoption leave
  • Or taken if the mother has already returned to work
  • Start on any day of the week
  • Only be taken in completed weeks (so if SPL lasts for one week and begins on a Tuesday it will finish on the following Monday)
  • Taken using 3 separate notices to book leave
  • Taken as a continuous block of unbroken leave or as a discontinuous block i.e. having breaks between the periods of leave where the employee return to work
  • Taken at any time within the period beginning on the date the child is born date of the placement and ends 52 weeks after that date

1.6 If parents don’t choose SPL at first, they have the option to use it at a later date while they are still eligible. For example, six months into a maternity leave period, a mother may choose to reduce their maternity leave by two months, giving their partner the chance to take those two months as SPL (provided they give eight weeks’ notice to their employer and take the SPL within a year of the birth / adoption).

1.7 The mother is legally required to take a minimum of 2 weeks’ maternity leave following the birth of her baby but can the remaining 50 weeks as SPL.

2. Eligibility for Shared Parental Leave

2.1 SPL can only be used by two people:

  • The mother/adopter and
  • One of the following:
  • the father of the child (in the case of birth)or
  • he spouse, civil partner or partner of the child's mother/ adopter.

2.2 Both parents must share the main responsibility for the care of the child at the time of the birth / placement for adoption. 2.3 Shared Parental Leave can still be taken even if only one parent is eligible with the Council. To qualify for SPL an employee must:

  • have a partner
  • be entitled to maternity / adoption leave
  • have curtailed, or given notice to reduce, their maternity / adoption leave
  • share the primary responsibility for the child with the other parent at the time of the birth or placement for adoption
  • have notified the Council of their entitlement and have provided the necessary declarations and evidence
  • have worked continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due or the date that they are matched with the adopted child
  • are still employed by the Council while they take SPL

2.7 An employee is not entitled to extra SPL if they are expecting more than one child. This also applies to multiple adoptions that occur in a single placement. 2.8 Both parents don’t have to be employed by council as long as one of them is eligible but the parent not employed by the Council must during the 66 weeks before the baby is due must:

  • have been employed or been a self-employed earner in at least 26 of the 66 weeks immediately preceding the expected week of childbirth;
  • have average weekly earnings of at least the maternity allowance threshold for any 13 of those 66 weeks; and
  • have, at the date of the child's birth, the main responsibility, apart from the mother, for the care of the child.

2.9 It is an employee’s responsibility to check that they are eligible for SPL and the Council will grant leave and pay based on the information and the Declaration provided by them, (see Forms section for Declaration Form). Employees must provide this information within 14 days of being asked for it.

3. Entitlements

3.1 If an employee is eligible and they or their partner end maternity or adoption leave and pay (or Maternity Allowance) early then they can:

  • Take the rest of the 52 weeks (up to a maximum of 50 weeks) as SPL
  • Take the rest of the 39 weeks of pay (up to a maximum of 37 weeks) as statutory shared parental pay

3.2 This leave will be paid at the statutory shared parental leave rate set by the government.

3.3 If an employee is entitled to full maternity leave and pay then it is generally beneficial for them to take maternity leave rather than SPL if they are not planning to share the leave with their partner. However, it is advisable to seek advice from HR Admin.

3.4 Paid Paternity Leave of two weeks will continue to be available to fathers and a mother's or adopter's partner. SPL will replace Additional Paternity Leave from 5th April 2015.

3.5 The mother's partner can begin a period of shared parental leave at any time from the date of the child's birth (but the partner should bear in mind that he/she is entitled to take up to two weeks' ordinary paternity leave following the birth of his / her child, which he / she will lose if shared parental leave is taken first).

4. Notification Process

4.1 An employee must give their manager at least 8 week’s notice that they intend to take a period of SPL using the SPL Application form (found on forms section of the intranet) and submit with it:

  • A copy of the child’s birth certificate (if one is available) or details of adoption placement

4.2 An employee is allowed 3 opportunities to change their dates. After that their manager is not obliged to grant them leave unless their partner has died and the limit is then extended to four notices, so that he or she can vary the agreed pattern of leave in light of his or her new circumstances.

4.3 But once the mother has given notice to end maternity / adoption leave and either parent has informed their employer of their entitlement to take SPL then the notice to end maternity leave is binding and cannot be withdrawn except where.

4.4 The child is born more than eight weeks before their expected due date and the notice of entitlement to SPL and / or a notice to book SPL have not yet been given, then there is no requirement to give eight weeks’ notice before the period of leave starts. The notice should be given as soon as is reasonably practicable after the actual birth.

4.5 The employee has any SPL arranged within eight weeks of their entitlement ceasing, the Council can still require them to take it as SPL if it is not reasonably practicable for their manager to have them in work, for example because cover has been arranged. Any weeks of SPL arranged after eight weeks of their entitlement ceasing must be cancelled.

4.6 SPL can commence as follows:

  • The mother can take SPL after she has taken the legally required two weeks of maternity leave immediately following the birth of the child
  • The adopter can take SPL after taking at least two weeks of adoption leave
  • The father / partner / spouse can take SPL immediately following the birth / placement of the child, but may first choose to exhaust any paternity leave entitlements (as the father / partner cannot take paternity leave or pay once they have taken any SPL).

5. Refusing Shared Parental Leave

5.1. A manager cannot refuse a request for continuous leave but can refuse a request for a discontinuous period.

Factors that will be relevant for the manager when considering requests for discontinuous blocks of SPL will include:

  • the impact the employee's absence will have on the business
  • how this impact can be reduced
  • whether an alternative leave pattern would cause less disruption
  • how the role can be covered to maintain business continuity.

5.2. If the request for discontinuous leave is refused then the employee can choose to take the leave as a continuous block or withdraw their request.

5.3. If the leave is refused the manager should meet with the employee to explain the reasons for their refusal and where possible propose revised dates.

5.4 If an employee is unhappy with the refusal they have a right to appeal.

The appeal must be made in writing, the letter dated and setting out the grounds for the Appeal, within 14 days of the employee receiving written notification from their Manager that their request has been refused.

5.5 If the manager fails to respond to a notification then the employee should check that their employer received the request. The employee will be entitled to take a continuous leave booking if their manager does not respond to the notification within 14 days.

5.6 If no agreement is reached regarding a discontinuous leave request during the 14 calendar day’s discussion period or no response is given, then the leave will default to a single continuous block. The employee will then have to decide whether to take the leave as a continuous block or to withdraw the request.

6. Shared Parental Leave Keeping in Touch Days (SPLIT)

6.1 During SPL an employee and their manager can agree up to 20 Shared Parental Leave in Touch (SPLIT) days. There is no obligation on the manager to offer these days or for an employee to agree to them.

6.2 If an individual is entitled to maternity or adoption leave these 20 SPLIT days can be taken in addition to the 10 Keeping in Touch Days (KIT) allowed under the Maternity and Adoption Policies.

6.3 SPLIT days can be used in situations where both parties feel it would be beneficial for the employee to attend a work-related activity, for example a training session or a team meeting, or to work part of a week to help the employee return to their role in a gradual way.

6.4 An employee will be paid their normal contractual salary for working a SPLIT day.

7. Returning to work after Shared Parental Leave

7.1 If an employee returns to work on the date they gave in their Notification Application form there is no need for them to give notice of their return.

7.2 If an employee wishes to return to work early from SPL they must give their manager eight weeks’ notice of their return to work.

7.3 When an employee returns to work following a period of SPL they are entitled to return to the same job if their combined leave period (comprising of maternity/paternity/adoption and shared parental leave) totalled 26 weeks or less.

This is unaffected by unpaid parental leave of up to four weeks being taken as well.

7.4 Where an employee’s maternity / paternity / adoption and SPL exceeds 26 weeks in aggregate, or the total number of unpaid parental week exceeds four weeks, an employee can return to the same job unless it is not reasonably practicable, in which case they must offer a suitable and appropriate job on terms and conditions that are no less favourable.

8. Non-Pay Benefits during Shared Parental Leave

8.1 An employee will continue to receive non-pay benefits such as Lease Car and Salary Sacrifice Schemes when taking Shared Parental Leave.

8.2 An employee will continue to accrue annual leave during SPL but the rules for carry over of leave will still apply.

9. Pensions

10.1 An employee in the Local Government pension scheme (LGPS) will continue to pay basic contributions on any pay they receive whilst on SPL. However, any period of unpaid SPL will not count for pension purposes unless the employee chooses to pay Additional Pension Contributions (APCs) on their return to work, to purchase the amount of pension lost.

10.2 If an employee wants to purchase the amount of lost pension and chooses to do so within 30 days of returning to work, then the cost of the APC is split between them and Harrow Council. The employee will pay one-third of
the cost and Harrow Council will pay the rest. If the individual decides after 30 days of returning to work, they will have to pay for the full cost of the APCs.

10.3 The employee can pay the additional contributions in a one-off lump sum or through regular payments from salary. The maximum period of absence they can choose to buy back is 3 years.

10.4 A formal decision must be sent to the Pensions Office, in writing, by the employee when they return from leave. Click here for LGPS  Pension information Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Parental leave.

10.5 If an employee is a member of the NHS Pension scheme they will be asked to pay pension contributions based on the actual amount of pay they receive during SPL. The Council will pay its normal contributions on their salary. If an employee wishes to pay contributions during unpaid SPL leave this will be based on the rate of pay they were on immediately before their unpaid leave started.

10.6 If an employee cannot afford to pay pension contributions during their leave these can be paid when they return to work. This must be done over a reasonable period of time agreed between the individual and the Council.

10.7 An employee should be encouraged to discuss the implications of not paying contributions during this period with the HR Service Centre who can be contacted at: