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Shared Parental Leave FAQs 

The Parental Leave policy is available here.

Throughout these FAQs where there is reference to ‘the mother’ this will include the primary carer in the case of, for example, same sex adoption. In this context any reference to ‘she’ also includes ‘he’.

About Shared Parental leave

1What is shared parental leave?

Shared Parental Leave is a new right that will enable eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed. 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.

2Can same-sex couples take shared parental leave?

Yes. You can take shared parental leave with your spouse, civil partner or partner. Partner is defined as someone (whether of a different sex or the same sex) who lives with you in an enduring family relationship (but who is not your child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew).

 

Eligibility for Leave

3Are there any eligibility criteria for the mother, father of a child, or the mother’s partner to be able to take shared parental leave?

There is a two-stage test for eligibility for shared parental leave: you, the employee, must be eligible in your own right and your partner must also meet certain eligibility requirements.
A mother who is an employee of UCL will be entitled to occupational shared parental leave and pay from day one of employment, if she:

  • has the main responsibility for the care of the child at the date of the birth (apart from the responsibility of her partner or the child's father);
  • is entitled to statutory maternity leave in respect of the child;
  • has curtailed her statutory maternity leave; and
  • has complied with UCL’s relevant notice and evidence requirements

A mother will be also eligible for statutory shared parental leave and pay to care for her child if she:

  • has at least 26 weeks' continuous employment by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth and remains in continuous employment with that employer until the week before any period of shared parental leave that she takes;

and her partner has:

  • been employed or self-employed during at least 26 of the 66 weeks before the expected week of childbirth;
  • average weekly earnings that meets the earnings threshold in force at the time;

If you are the partner (i.e. the child's father or the mother's spouse, civil partner or partner) and an employee of UCL you will be entitled to occupational shared parental leave and pay from day one of employment, if you:

  • have the main responsibility for the child at the date of the birth (apart from the responsibility of the mother)
  • have complied with UCL’s relevant notice and evidence requirements.

An employee who is the father of a child, or the partner of the child's mother will also be eligible for statutory shared parental leave and pay to care for the child if he or she:

  • has at least 26 weeks' continuous employment by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth and remains in continuous employment with UCL until the week before any period of shared parental leave that he or she takes;

In addition, the child's mother must:

  • have been employed or self-employed during at least 26 of the 66 weeks before the expected week of childbirth;
  • have average weekly earnings that meets the earnings threshold in force at the time;
  • have the main responsibility for the child at the date of the birth (apart from the responsibility of the employee);
  • be entitled to statutory maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance in respect of the child; and
  • have curtailed her statutory maternity leave, or if she is not entitled to statutory maternity leave, curtailed her statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance.

4Can I take shared parental leave if my partner is self-employed?

Yes, you can be eligible to take shared parental leave if your partner is self-employed, as long as your partner meets the relevant requirements relating to employment and earnings.

Your partner must have:

  • been engaged in employment either as an employed or self-employed earner for any part of the week in at least 26 of the 66 weeks immediately before the expected week of birth (or the week of notification of matching for adoption); and
  • have average weekly earnings that meets the earnings threshold in force at the time.
    www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay/eligibility

For example, if the mother of a child is self-employed and eligible for maternity allowance (the test for entitlement to maternity allowance is the same as the employment and earnings test above for shared parental leave), the father, or the mother's partner, can take shared parental leave, provided that he or she meets the eligibility requirements. The mother would have to curtail her entitlement to maternity allowance. The mother would not be entitled to take shared parental leave in her own right if she is not an employee.

Similarly, if the father of a child or the mother's partner is self-employed and meets the employment and earnings test, the mother can take shared parental leave provided that she meets the eligibility requirements. While the mother will not be able to share the leave with her partner if he or she is not an employee, the mother may choose to curtail her maternity leave and take shared parental leave instead, so that she can take her leave in a more flexible way, i.e. in more than one block.

 

Agreeing Leave periods

5Can UCL refuse my request to take shared parental leave or require me to take it at a different time?

This depends on the pattern of leave that you have requested when giving UCL a "period of leave notice".

If you submit a valid period of leave notice requesting one continuous period of leave, UCL must allow you to take the period of leave on the dates requested. We cannot require you to take it at a different time, for example to avoid you being absent during a particularly busy period or when other employees are also absent. You can submit up to three separate leave notices of single blocks of leave, which we would be obliged to honour, giving 8 weeks’ notice of each block.

You may submit up to three separate notices requesting discontinuous periods of leave, e.g. one notice requesting two weeks' leave beginning on 1 June, four weeks' leave beginning on 1 August and four weeks' leave beginning on 1 December, etc. UCL can legally refuse requests for discontinuous leave or suggest alternative dates for a period or periods of leave, but is not obliged to do so.

If your request for discontinuous leave dates is refused you can withdraw the notice or agree alternative dates with UCL. If you have neither withdrawn the notice nor agreed new dates within two weeks of the date of the notice, you can either withdraw the notice at that point or take the total amount of leave requested in the leave notice as a continuous period of leave (i.e. one period of 10 weeks' leave, in the example above). You can choose a start date for the continuous period of leave that is no less than eight weeks from the date of the leave notice.

As UCL is keen to encourage early notification of up to 3 blocks of leave, and allow this at an enhanced rate of pay, we would encourage one discontinuous notice of up to three blocks of leave with a default position that this should be agreed. If at this point an alternative pattern is discussed and agreed we would accept this as meeting the criteria for enhanced pay.

 

Eligibility for Pay

6Will UCL pay enhanced shared parental pay?

UCL will pay UCL employees enhanced pay up to 16 weeks full pay (18 weeks minus 2 weeks compulsory maternity or adoption leave), subject to clear notification of all requested blocks of shared parental leave (up to a maximum of three) being given and agreed at the start of the first period of leave. Where subsequent changes are requested or a subsequent request for blocks of leave is made, if agreed, these will be paid at the statutory rate only. This is to encourage early conversations between managers and employees which will support clear management of planned absences. There may be flexibility in the application of this rule in exceptional circumstances, such as where unforeseeable complications arise following the birth or adoption of a child.

7Do employees receive statutory pay while on shared parental leave?

Yes, up to 37 weeks' statutory shared parental pay is available for parents to share between them while on shared parental leave.

The mother of a child can choose to curtail her maternity/adoption leave and statutory maternity/adoption pay and take shared parental leave and statutory shared parental pay with her partner, or the child's father. The mother cannot curtail her maternity/adoption leave and pay until the end of the compulsory maternity/adoption leave period (two weeks), so the maximum amount of shared parental pay available is 37 weeks. Similar provisions apply for parents taking shared parental leave in an adoption situation, although there is no compulsory adoption period.

For example, if the mother takes maternity leave for 30 weeks, then the father takes a period of shared parental leave of 12 weeks, then the mother takes a period of shared parental leave of 10 weeks; the mother would be paid statutory maternity pay for 30 weeks and the father would be paid statutory shared parental pay for the first nine weeks of his leave period (provided that they meet all the relevant eligibility requirements).

Statutory shared parental pay will be paid at a flat rate for all 37 weeks.

8How is shared parental pay divided between the parents if they take shared parental leave at the same time as each other?

There are no rules as to how entitlement to shared parental pay should be divided between parents. This is for agreement between the parents.

The total amount of statutory shared parental pay available for eligible parents to share is 39 weeks, minus the amount of statutory maternity/adoption pay or maternity allowance paid to the mother. Parents can be on shared parental leave at the same time as each other and can receive shared parental pay at the same time.

Parents are each required to notify their respective employer of how much shared parental pay they are entitled to and how they intend to split it between them.

9If I take shared parental leave with my partner, who is responsible for paying my partner?

If you take shared parental leave with your partner, it is the employer of your partner who is responsible for paying your partner.

You do not have a right to transfer entitlement to enhanced pay to your partner (enhanced pay is paid by UCL). For example, if a mother works for an organisation that pays enhanced contractual pay to employees on shared parental leave and she takes shared parental leave with her partner, who works for an organisation that does not enhance shared parental pay, the mother will be paid by her employer in accordance with its policy, but the partner will not receive enhanced pay for any period of shared parental leave that s/he takes. If the partner is entitled to statutory shared parental pay for any period of shared parental leave (i.e. if the shared entitlement to statutory pay is not being used up by the mother), this will be paid by his/her employer.

 

Notice

10How much notice must I give?

Assuming you meet the eligibility tests, you must give at least eight weeks' notice of your intention to take shared parental leave. You can choose to take shared parental leave at any time before the child's first birthday or before the first anniversary of the adoption placement.

11What type of notice must I give?

There are a number of different notices that you must give before you can take shared parental leave.

Before either parent can take shared parental leave, the mother must give her employer a leave curtailment notice, setting out the date on which she intends to bring her maternity leave to an end. This is because you cannot access both maternity leave and shared parental leave at the same time. The mother can continue to take leave through shared parental leave.

At the same time as the mother gives the leave curtailment notice she must give her employer (not less than eight weeks before the start of your first period of shared parental leave and any subsequent period of shared parental leave):

  • a notice of entitlement and intention to take shared parental leave, providing the employer with information including how much shared parental leave the parents each intend to take and an indication as to when the mother intends to take leave (which is non-binding if provided at least 6 weeks before the expected week of childbirth); or
  • a declaration stating that her partner has given his or her employer a notice of entitlement and intention to take shared parental leave and that she consents to her partner taking that amount of leave.

The same notice requirements apply for employees taking shared parental leave when adopting a child.

 

Verifying Information Provided

12Can UCL insist on evidence that an employee is entitled to shared parental leave?

When UCL receives notice from an employee that he or she intends to take shared parental leave, we can request a copy of the child's birth / adoption matching certificate and the name and address of your partner's employer. You must provide this within 14 days of the request.  If the ShPL request is received before the actual birth, the birth certificate must be provided within 14 days of the birth.

UCL will rely on the declarations provided by you and your partner that you both meet the various eligibility requirements. We will not check the earnings and employment history of your partner, unless there is good cause to doubt the veracity of your declarations. Any information requested of your partner's employer would only be able to be provided with your partner’s consent.

Any false declaration that you and your partner are entitled to shared parental leave and/or pay will be treated as a disciplinary issue.

 

Shared Parental Leave in Touch (SPLIT) Days

13Can employees on shared parental leave take keeping-in-touch days?

Yes, you and your manager can agree up to 20 keeping-in-touch days during shared parental leave without bringing the leave to an end, known as ‘shared parental leave in touch (SPLIT) days’. These can be used either to undertake work or, for instance, to attend meetings, team events or training. Both parents have up to 20 SPLIT days each, which can be taken as single days or in blocks of days. This is in addition to the 10 keeping-in-touch (KIT) days available to the mother or primary adopter during maternity leave or adoption leave.

14How will I be reimbursed for any time spent on a SPLIT day?

Any work undertaken on a SPLIT day will be treated as a whole SPLIT day, irrespective of the actual amount of time spent at work and will count as a whole day’s entitlement. Employees will receive equivalent paid time off in lieu for time spent working during SPLIT days. TOIL days should be agreed directly with your line manager to be taken on your return from ShPL. SPLIT days not taken are not added to annual leave entitlement.

 

What are my rights at the end of Shared Parental Leave?

15Do I have the right to return to the same job after taking a period of shared parental leave?

As with someone taking maternity leave, you have the right to return to the same job after taking a period of shared parental leave if the period of leave, when added to any period of statutory maternity, paternity or adoption leave taken by the employee in relation to the same child, is 26 weeks or less.

Your right to return to the same job is qualified if returning after taking shared parental leave that totals more than 26 weeks when added to any period of statutory maternity, paternity or adoption leave taken by you in relation to the same child.

In these circumstances, you have the right to return to the same job unless it is not reasonably practicable for UCL to permit this, in which case you have the right to return to another job that is both suitable and appropriate for you to do in the circumstances.

16If I’m made redundant while on shared parental leave do I have any special rights?

Yes, if your role becomes redundant while you are on shared parental leave you must be offered any suitable alternative vacancy. These preferential rights to suitable alternative employment mirror the enhanced rights available to women on maternity leave.

 

Accruing Annual Leave

17Do I accrue annual leave during a period of shared parental leave?

Yes. Entitlement to annual leave continues to accrue during shared parental leave, as employees are entitled to benefit from all of their contractual terms and conditions (with the exception of remuneration) for the duration of any period of shared parental leave.

18I want to take annual leave, how do I book it?

Your manager should be notify the HR ECA Supervisor on the date you are returning to work  at the end of any period of paid or unpaid parental leave and you will be placed back on normal pay on the payroll. If you wish to take a period of annual leave immediately at the end of the parental leave period, your manager should then authorise your annual leave in the usual way.

 

Interaction with other types of Leave

19Can I still take paternity/partner’s leave once shared parental leave is in force?

Yes. If you are eligible, you will still be able to take up to four weeks' paid paternity/partner’s leave within the first 56 days following the child's birth, in addition to any entitlements under shared parental leave. However, you cannot take paternity/partner’s leave if you have already taken a period of shared parental leave in relation to the same child. Therefore, the period of paternity/partner’s leave must come first, to ensure that you are not disadvantaged.

20Are there any changes to the policy for 18 weeks' unpaid ordinary parental leave as a result of the introduction of shared parental leave?

No, there are no changes to ordinary parental leave as a result of the introduction of shared parental leave.

Eligible employees can currently take up to 18 weeks' unpaid ordinary parental leave in relation to a child before his or her eighteenth birthday. Entitlement to ordinary parental leave will not be affected by whether or not employees decide to take shared parental leave.

 

HR Strategy and Planning
March 2016