Shared Parental Leave policy

Introduction

The Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014 provide a statutory right for eligible employees to take shared parental leave (SPL) in connection with the birth of a child due, or placement of an adopted child, on or after 5th April 2015.  In brief, this allows parents to choose how much of the SPL each of them will take.

Aims

The aims of the policy are to explain:

  • the provisions of shared parental leave;
  • who is eligible; and
  • how to apply.

Scope and interpretation

This policy applies to all employees of the University and supersedes Additional Paternity Leave and Pay from 5 April 2015. (The new arrangements for Shared Parental Leave replace Section B (Additional Paternity Leave) of the University’s Paternity, Maternity and Adoption Leave Support policy, which came into force from April 2011).

Shared parental leave cannot be taken until after the birth/placing of the child.

In this policy, the term “partner” means the person who at the date of the child’s birth is:

  • the child’s biological father; or
  • married to the mother/primary adopter (including same-sex marriage); or
  • the mother/primary adopter’s civil partner; or
  • a person who lives with the mother/primary adopter in an enduring family relationship but is not the mother/primary adopter’s child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew.

Line managers will not unreasonably refuse any request for discontinuous periods of SPL. It is hoped that through discussion between the employee and their line manager an acceptable arrangement can be reached. Staff may be accompanied in those discussions by a trade union representative, if they so choose, and the HR link team will facilitate those discussions if so requested. This does not affect the employee’s right to raise a grievance.

Principles

Shared parental leave (SPL) allows a mother/primary adopter and her partner to share the responsibility of working and caring for a child provided that the mother/primary adopter returns to work prior to using all of her entitlement to maternity/adoption leave and/or statutory pay.  SPL allows parents to choose how much of the SPL each of them will take.

To qualify for shared parental leave you must:

  • be the child’s mother/primary adopter, and be eligible for either maternity leave or pay, Maternity Allowance or adoption leave or pay; or
  • be the biological father of the child or the mother/primary adopter’s partner, and
  • have 26 weeks’ continuous service by the end of the 15th week before  the expected week of childbirth or being notified of being matched with an adoptive child;
  • still be employed whilst you take SPL;
  • give the correct notice, including a declaration that your partner meets the employment and income requirements (i.e. that they have worked in Great Britain for at least 26 weeks during the 66 weeks prior to the week in which the child is due and in 13 of those 66 weeks, they have earned an average of 30 per week and have paid either class 1 or class 2 national insurance contributions in those weeks, or hold an exemption certificate).

This includes employees who are the intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement where they are applying for a parental order and eligible for adoption leave and pay.

You may be entitled to Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if you qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Statutory Paternity Pay (and have a partner who qualifies for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance or Statutory Adoption Pay) see the Maternity Leave Policy for further information.

An employee who does not meet the qualifying conditions for statutory maternity pay or statutory adoption pay or statutory paternity pay will not meet the qualifying conditions for shared parental pay.

Shared parental leave and pay cannot begin before the birth (or placement for adoption) and must be taken within one year of the birth or the date that the child was placed with the family (i.e. the day before the child’s first birthday or the first anniversary of the placement of an adopted child).

Partners do not have to work for Oxford Brookes University but they must satisfy the minimum employment and earnings criteria.  ShPP is paid to the employee by their respective employer.

Employees are encouraged to speak to their Link HR Team to confirm eligibility and entitlement.

Entitlement

Eligible parents will be able to share a maximum of 50 weeks leave* and 37 weeks’ ShPP, for the purpose of caring for a child within the first year of the child’s life or in the year after the child is placed for adoption. 

* A mother cannot return to work before the end of the compulsory two weeks of maternity leave following the birth.  Two weeks’ Ordinary Paternity Leave is also available to the child’s father or secondary adopter or the mother/primary adopter’s spouse or partner (including same-sex spouse/partner) or civil partner  see the Paternity Leave Policy .

Oxford Brookes offers all pregnant employees the option of an additional 11 weeks’ University Maternity Leave (UML) - 63 weeks in total. This additional leave is also offered to adoptive parents. Shared parental leave at Brookes mirrors this provision.

The amount of shared parental leave and pay available will depend on how much maternity or adoption leave and pay has already been taken.

This includes employees who are the intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement where they are applying for a parental order and eligible for adoption leave and pay.

SPL must be taken in complete weeks, it can be taken:

  • as one continuous block; or
  • in multiple discontinuous blocks (complete weeks only).

The minimum SPL that can be taken is one week.  Provided that both parents qualify for SPL you can choose to take leave at the same time as your partner or you can take your leave separately.

You may take one or more periods of shared parental leave per pregnancy or adoption.

For SPL to start, the mother/primary adopter must do one of the following:

  • end their maternity or adoption leave by returning to work early and giving 8 weeks’ notice of this (“a curtailment notice”) see Notification of SPL below;
  • give the University a “binding notice” of the date when they will end their maternity or adoption leave; or
  • end Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance.

Notification of SPL

Before taking leave, an employee must notify their line manager of their entitlement to and intention to take SPL.  This should be done on the appropriate HR Form - Notice of Entitlement and Intention to Take Shared Parental Leave, available on the HR web page.  You should use Form A for the mother/primary adopter, where they are a Brookes’ employee; Form B for the partner where they are a Brookes’ employee. This should be submitted no later than 8 weeks before the date of the first period of shared parental leave.

Providing the requisite 8 weeks’ notice has been given, your line manager is obliged to accept any request for a single block of leave.  If less than 8 weeks’ notice is given, the University will try to accommodate the request, but this cannot be guaranteed.

If you request a discontinuous period of SPL, your line manager should respond within two weeks from the date the notice was given.  S/he may wish to discuss the proposal with you before coming to a decision and take advice from the Link HR Team. You may be accompanied in any such discussions by a trade union member, if you so wish. Your line manager may:

  • agree to your request;
  • propose alternative dates; or
  • decline your request due to organisational need.

Requests for discontinuous leave will not be unreasonably refused. If a request is turned down, your line manager must provide full reasons.

Once a decision is reached, the signed form will be forwarded to the HR Link Team, with a copy to the employee.

It is hoped that through discussion between the employee (and his/her union representative), the line manager and HR that a reasonable solution can be found. In the event that no agreement is reached within the 8 week notice period, then the leave will default to a single continuous block.  You can choose when the continuous leave will commence but it cannot start sooner than 8 weeks from the date the original notification was given.  If you do not choose the start date, it will automatically default to the date the requested discontinuous leave would have first started.

The employee has a right to make up to three separate requests for periods of shared parental leave and three withdrawal notices may be submitted. Any periods of leave that have been declined do not count towards these totals. The University will endeavour to respond positively to any further requests which might be made.

The completed HR Form must be provided as evidence of entitlement to SPL. This form acts as a declaration required under the SPL Regulations 2014.  The declaration must state that the individual:

  • meets all the criteria to be eligible for SPL and pay; and
  • has met the notification requirements as detailed above. 

They must also state:

  • their full name;
  • their partner’s full name;
  • the name and address of their partner’s employer;
  • confirmation that they are eligible for shared parental leave;
  • a statement that the information contained within the declaration is accurate;
  • the date of the expected week of childbirth;
  • details of the amount of leave each partner is to take (this is non-binding); and
  • the consent of their partner, that they agree to the amount of shared parental leave each partner is to take.

False declarations may subject the individual to the disciplinary procedure. 

Once the mother/primary adopter has ended their maternity/adoption leave and has returned to work they will only be entitled to Shared Parental Pay during periods of shared parental leave and at that point cannot revert back onto maternity leave (see Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) section).

You must provide within 14 days of the child’s birth, a copy of the birth certificate, where one has been issued, or, where the birth certificate has yet to be issued, a signed declaration stating the date and location of birth.

Terms and Conditions of employment

During a period of shared parental leave individuals will be entitled to the same terms and conditions that would have applied had they not taken the leave, with the exception of remuneration (see shared parental pay (ShPP) section below).

All SPL will be:

  • pensionable, subject to the terms and conditions of the pension scheme; and
  • reckonable for incremental pay.

You have the right to return to the same job if you have been on shared parental leave plus any other type of leave for 26 weeks or less.  If you have been on leave for more than 26 weeks you have the right to return to the same job unless this is not reasonably practicable. If due to organisational change your role no longer exists you would be managed in accordance with the organisational change policy.

Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)

Statutory shared parental pay (ShPP) is payable to eligible employees up to a maximum of 37 weeks.  Statutory ShPP is currently paid at the rate of 138.18 a week or 90% of an employee’s average weekly earnings whichever is lower.

The University will enhance ShPP for its employees (depending on the amount of Occupational Maternity Pay already received until the curtailment of maternity leave) as follows:

  • Full pay (including statutory ShPP) for first 11 weeks (after the two weeks’ compulsory maternity leave);
  • Half pay plus statutory ShPP for subsequent 13 weeks, and
  • Statutory ShPP for remaining 13 weeks.

No combination of payments will exceed full pay. 

The 13 weeks’ half pay is optional and dependent on an intention to return to work for at least 3 months after the birth/adoption  of the (periods of annual leave and/or career breaks do not count towards the 3 months).

If an employee elects to receive the enhanced pay and subsequently decides not to return to work, they will be asked to repay it.  Likewise, if an employee elects not to receive the enhanced pay and then decides to return to work for at least 3 months, the whole of the payment will be made on the completion of 3 months’ service.

Shared parental leave in touch (“SPLIT”) days

Both parents who are eligible for shared parental leave may take up to a maximum of 20 shared parental leave in touch (“SPLIT”) days between them.  SPLIT days will be taken by arrangement between the parent and their line manager. SPLIT days are optional. There is no obligation for either the employee or the University to agree to a SPLIT day and an employee has the right to turn down a SLIT day without suffering any detriment.

Taking SPLIT days, which are days when you attend work, will not end your entitlement to shared parental leave or statutory pay.  On a SPLIT day you will be paid for the number of hours that you work at your normal contractual rate of pay.  However, any ShPP will be offset against your pay for that work.

Further information

For further information, please contact your Link HR Team.

 

August 2015