In April 2015, new rules will come into force under the Children and Families Bill 2012-13 allowing working mothers to share their maternity leave and maternity pay with their partners.
Employees will be entitled to share a maximum of 52 weeks’ leave and 39 weeks’ statutory pay upon the birth or adoption of a child. After birth, working mothers will still need to take the first two weeks of maternity leave for recovery but they can then share the following 50 weeks with their partners.
For the first six weeks the parent on leave will be entitled to receive 90% of their average weekly earnings before tax. For the remaining 33 weeks their pay entitlement will be 90% of their average weekly earnings or the current rate of statutory maternity pay- whichever is lower.
Working fathers will still be entitled to take two weeks’ paid paternity leave entitlement immediately after the child’s birth. Notice of paternity leave and pay has been aligned so both must be given by the 15th week before the birth, under the new rules.
In addition to the mother’s existing entitlement of ten KIT days, 20 additional KIT style days will be allocated for each parent taking shared parental leave.
Both parents will be required to give their employers eight weeks notice of their intention to take shared parental leave.
If parents wish to take separate blocks of leave then they are required to give 8 weeks’ notice for each leave period. If blocks are to be taken every other month, for example, then this will need to be agreed. Employers can reject such a request, suggest changes or insist the employee take the leave in a single continuous block, but they cannot refuse leave outright.
Up to three notifications for leave or changes to periods of leave can be made and any further periods of leave and changes will need to be by agreement.
Working parents taking a total leave of 26 weeks or less will be entitled to return to the same job but for anyone taking leave of over 26 weeks, they will have the right to return to the same or a similar job.