Shared parental leave procedure

Policy statement

This policy sets out the rights of employees to shared parental leave and pay. Shared parental leave is a type of leave that is available to parents with babies due on or after 5 April 2015 or where an adoption placement takes place on or after 5 April 2015. The amount of shared parental leave and pay will be comparable to that of the maternity policy.

Scope

This policy applies to all RoS employees.

Principles

  • It is important to recognise that shared parental leave and shared parental pay are separate entitlements;
  • You are entitled to comparable leave and pay as in the maternity policy; however this will only be with pay at your normal rate if you satisfy the qualifying criteria under RoS's occupational maternity arrangements;
  • You may, by agreement with your manager attend up to twenty days' work which will be known as (SPLIT) days "shared parental leave in touch" days;
  • On return from shared parental leave any requests to vary working patterns will be given serious consideration.

Introduction to shared parental leave

Shared parental leave enables mothers to commit to ending their maternity leave/adoption leave and pay at a future date, and to share the untaken balance of leave and pay as shared parental leave and pay with their partner, or to return to work early from maternity leave and opt in to shared parental leave and pay at a later date.

Shared parental leave should not be confused with ordinary parental leave, which is unaffected by shared parental leave. Ordinary parental leave is the entitlement to up to 18 weeks' unpaid leave. RoS provides a separate policy on ordinary parental leave.

RoS recognises that, from time to time, employees may have questions or concerns relating to their shared parental leave rights. It is our policy to encourage open discussion with employees to ensure that questions and problems can be resolved as quickly as possible. As the shared parental leave provisions are complex, if an employee wishes to take shared parental leave, he/she should clarify the relevant procedures with the human resources department to ensure that they are followed correctly.

Definitions under this shared parental leave policy

The following definitions are used in this policy:

"Mother" means the mother or expectant mother of the child, or primary adoptive parent.

"Partner" means the father of the child, or the person who, at the date of the child's birth, is married to, the civil partner of, or the partner of the mother. This includes someone, of either sex, who lives with the mother and the child in an enduring family relationship but who is not the mother's child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew.

"Expected week of childbirth" means the week, starting on a Sunday, during which the mother's doctor or midwife expects her to give birth.

"Compulsory maternity leave" means the period of two weeks starting with the day of the birth, during which the employee cannot return to work.

"Continuous leave" means leave that is requested in one notice and is in one block with no breaks.

"Discontinuous leave" means leave that is requested in one notice that has multiple leave and return to work dates.

"Ordinary maternity leave" means the first 26 weeks of maternity leave.

"Additional maternity leave" means a further 26 weeks of maternity leave after ordinary maternity leave has finished.

Scope of this shared parental leave policy

This policy applies in relation to employees of RoS, whether they are the mother or the partner. If it is the mother who is employed by RoS, her partner must (where relevant) submit any notifications to take shared parental leave to his/her own employer, which may have its own shared parental leave policy in place, if he/she wants to take a period of shared parental leave.

Similarly, if it is the partner who is employed by RoS, the mother must (where relevant) submit any notifications to take shared parental leave to her own employer.

Whereby both the mother and the partner are employed by RoS, both must make separate applications to their appropriate line manager.

The mother and the partner should ensure that they are each liaising with their own employer to ensure that requests for shared parental leave are handled as smoothly as possible.

Amount of shared parental leave available

The amount of shared parental leave to which an individual is entitled will depend on when the mother brings her maternity leave period to an end and the amount of leave that the other parent takes in respect of the child. Shared parental leave must be taken in blocks of at least one week. The employee can request to take shared parental leave in one continuous block (in which case RoS is required to accept the request as long as the employee meets the eligibility and notice requirements), or as a number of discontinuous blocks of leave (in which case the employee will need their line manager agreement). A maximum of three requests for leave per pregnancy can be made by each parent.

The first two weeks following birth are the compulsory maternity leave period and are reserved for the mother. This means that the mother cannot curtail her maternity leave to take shared parental leave until two weeks after the birth and the maximum period that the parents could take as shared parental leave is 50 weeks between them, or in cases whereby the mother is a factory worker she cannot curtail her maternity leave to take shared parental leave until 4 weeks after the birth, this means that 48 weeks would be available as shared paternity leave.

However, 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 paternity leave following the birth of his/her child, which he/she will lose if shared parental leave is taken first). The mother and partner must take any shared parental leave within 52 weeks of the birth of their child.

Eligibility for shared parental leave

For employees to be eligible to take shared parental leave, both parents must meet certain eligibility requirements.

The mother is eligible for shared parental leave if she:

  • has at least 26 weeks' continuous employment ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth and remains in continuous employment with the organisation until the week before any period of shared parental leave that she takes;
  • has, at the date of the child's birth, the main responsibility, apart from the partner, for the care of the child;
  • is entitled to statutory maternity leave in respect of the child; and
  • complies with the relevant maternity leave curtailment requirements (or has returned to work before the end of statutory maternity leave), and shared parental leave notice and evidence requirements.

In addition, for the mother to be eligible for shared parental leave, the partner 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 [currently ¬£30] 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.

Partner's eligibility for shared parental leave

The partner is eligible for shared parental leave if he/she:

  • has at least 26 weeks' continuous employment ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth and remains in continuous employment with the organisation until the week before any period of shared parental leave that he/she takes;
  • has, at the date of the child's birth, the main responsibility, apart from the mother, for the care of the child; and
  • complies with the relevant shared parental leave notice and evidence requirements.

In addition, for the partner to be eligible for shared parental leave, the mother must:

  • have been employed or been a self-employed earner during 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 [currently ¬£30] for any 13 of those 66 weeks;
  • have, at the date of the child's birth, the main responsibility, apart from the partner, for the care of the child;
  • be entitled to statutory maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance in respect of the child; and
  • comply with the relevant maternity leave or pay curtailment requirements (or have returned to work before the end of statutory maternity leave).

Notice requirements for shared parental leave

The notices that the parents must give to the relevant employer to be able to take shared parental leave are made up of three elements. They are:

  • a "maternity leave curtailment notice" from the mother setting out when she proposes to end her maternity leave (unless the mother has already returned to work from maternity leave);
  • a "notice of entitlement and intention" from the employee giving an initial, non-binding indication of each period of shared parental leave that he/she is requesting; and
  • a "period of leave notice" from the employee setting out the start and end dates of each period of shared parental leave that he/she is requesting.

The notice periods set out below are the minimum required by law. However, the earlier the employee informs their line manager of his/her intentions, the more likely it is that the line manager will be able to accommodate the employee's wishes, particularly if he/she wants to take periods of discontinuous leave.

Employees are advised that, if they have already decided the pattern of shared parental leave that they would like to take, they can provide more than one type of notice at the same time.

For example: The mother could provide a maternity leave curtailment notice, notice of entitlement and intention and period of leave notice at the same time to her employer. Similarly, the partner could provide his/her notice of entitlement and intention and period of leave notice at the same time to his employer.

Before the mother or partner can take shared parental leave, the mother must either return to work before the end of her maternity leave (by giving the required eight weeks' notice of her planned return) or provide her employer with a maternity leave curtailment notice. The maternity leave curtailment notice must be in writing and state the date on which maternity leave is to end.

That date must be:

  • after the compulsory maternity leave period, which is the two weeks after birth, or in cases whereby the mother is a factory worker the compulsory leave period is 4 weeks after the birth;
  • at least eight weeks after the date on which the mother gave the maternity leave curtailment notice to her employer; and
  • at least one week before what would be the end of the additional maternity leave period.

The mother must provide her maternity leave curtailment notice at the same time she provides either her notice of entitlement and intention or a declaration of consent and entitlement signed by the mother confirming that her partner has given his/her employer a notice of entitlement and intention.

The mother can withdraw her notice curtailing her maternity leave in limited circumstances. The withdrawal of a maternity leave curtailment notice must be in writing and can be given only if the mother has not returned to work. The mother can withdraw her maternity leave curtailment notice if:

  • it is discovered that neither the mother nor the partner are entitled to shared parental leave or statutory shared parental pay and the mother withdraws her maternity leave curtailment notice within eight weeks of the date on which the notice was given;
  • the maternity leave curtailment notice was given before the birth of the child and the mother withdraws her maternity leave curtailment notice within six weeks of the child's birth; or
  • the partner has died.

Employee's notice of entitlement and intention

The employee, whether the mother or the partner, must provide RoS with a non-binding notice of entitlement and intention. The employee's notice of entitlement and intention, which must be in writing and provided at least eight weeks before the start date of the first period of shared parental leave to be taken by the employee, must set out the following information.

If the employee is the mother, the notice of entitlement and intention must set out:

  • the mother's name;
  • the partner's name;
  • the start and end dates of any statutory maternity leave taken or to be taken by the mother;
  • the total amount of shared parental leave available;
  • the child's expected week of birth and the child's date of birth (although, if the child has not yet been born, the date of birth can be provided as soon as reasonably practicable after birth, and before the first period of shared parental leave to be taken by the mother);
  • how much shared parental leave the mother and partner each intend to take; and
  • a non-binding indication as to when the employee intends to take shared parental leave (including the start and end dates for each period of leave).

It must include a declaration signed by her that:

  • she satisfies, or will satisfy, the eligibility requirements to take shared parental leave;
  • the information she gives in the notice of entitlement and intention is accurate; and
  • she will immediately inform the organisation if she ceases to care for the child.

It must also include a declaration signed by her partner:

  • specifying the partner's name, address, and national insurance number (or declaring that the partner does not have a national insurance number);
  • declaring that the partner satisfies, or will satisfy, the conditions set out above;
  • declaring that the partner is the father of the child, or is married to, the civil partner of, or the partner of, the mother;
  • declaring that the partner consents to the amount of leave that the mother intends to take; and
  • declaring that the partner consents to the mother's employer processing the information in the partner's declaration.

If the employee is the partner, the partner's notice of entitlement and intention must set out:

  • the partner's name;
  • the mother's name;
  • the start and end dates of any periods of statutory maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance taken or to be taken by the mother;
  • the total amount of shared parental leave available;
  • the child's expected week of birth and the child's date of birth (although, if the child has not yet been born, the date of birth can be provided as soon as reasonably practicable after birth, and before the first period of shared parental leave to be taken by the partner);
  • how much shared parental leave the partner and mother each intend to take; and
  • a non-binding indication as to when the partner intends to take shared parental leave (including the start and end dates for each period of leave).

The partner's notice of entitlement and intention must include a declaration signed by the partner that:

  • he/she satisfies, or will satisfy, the eligibility requirements to take shared parental leave;
  • the information given by the partner in the notice of entitlement and intention is accurate; and
  • he/she will immediately inform the organisation if he/she ceases to care for the child or if the mother informs him/her that she no longer meets the requirement to have curtailed her maternity leave or pay period.

In addition, the partner's notice of entitlement and intention must include a declaration signed by the mother:

  • specifying the mother's name, address, and national insurance number (or declaring that the mother does not have a national insurance number);
  • declaring that the mother satisfies, or will satisfy, the conditions set out above and she will notify the partner if she no longer qualifies for maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance;
  • declaring that the mother consents to the amount of leave that the partner intends to take;
  • declaring that she will immediately inform the employee if she no longer meets the requirement to have curtailed her maternity leave or pay period; and
  • declaring that the mother consents to the partner's employer processing the information in the mother's declaration.

Within 14 days of receiving a notice of entitlement and intention from the employee, whether the mother or partner, RoS can request from the employee:

  • a copy of the child's birth certificate (or, if the child has not been born, a copy of the birth certificate within 14 days of the birth - if the birth certificate has yet to be issued after this period, a signed declaration stating the date and location of the child's birth will suffice); and
  • the name and address of the other parent's employer (or a declaration that the other parent has no employer).

The employee has 14 days from the date of the request to send RoS the required information.

The employee can vary or cancel his/her proposed shared parental leave dates following the submission of a notice of entitlement and intention, provided that he/she provides the organisation with a written notice. The written notice must contain:

  • an indication as to when the employee intends to take shared parental leave (including the start and end dates for each period of leave);
  • details of any periods of shared parental leave that have been notified through a period of leave notice;
  • details of any periods of statutory shared parental pay that have been notified in relation to periods where shared parental leave was not to be taken; and
  • a declaration signed by the mother and the partner that they agree to the variation.

Any indication of leave intended to be taken that the employee provides in a variation of notice of entitlement and intention is non-binding until he/she provides a period of leave notice in relation to that period of leave. There is no limit on the number of variations of notice of entitlement and intention that the employee can make.

To take a period of shared parental leave, the employee must provide their line manager with a written notice setting out the start and end dates of each period of shared parental leave requested in that notice.

A period of leave notice must be given not less than eight weeks before the start date of the first period of shared parental leave requested in the notice. The notice may be given at the same time as a notice of entitlement and intention and can be a request for a continuous period of leave or discontinuous periods of leave.

Variation or cancellation of period leave notice

The employee can vary or cancel his/her proposed shared parental leave dates following the submission of a period of leave notice, provided that he/she provides his/her employer with a written notice not less than eight weeks before any period of leave varied or cancelled by the notice is due to commence. The written notice can:

  • vary the start date or the end date of any period of shared parental leave or cancel a request for leave;
  • request that a continuous period of leave become discontinuous periods of leave; or
  • request that discontinuous periods of leave become a continuous period of leave.

Limit on number of leave requests for leave

The employee can provide a combined total of up to three period of leave notices or variations of period of leave notices per pregnancy.

Continuous period of shared parental leave

If the employee submits a period of leave notice requesting one continuous period of leave, he/she will be entitled to take that period of leave.

Discontinuous period of shared parental leave

The employee may submit a period of leave notice requesting discontinuous periods of leave. For example, the mother and partner could request a pattern of leave from their respective employers that allows them to alternate childcare responsibilities.

If the employee submits a period of leave notice requesting discontinuous periods of leave, the line manager, in the two weeks beginning with the date the period of leave notice was given, can:

  • consent to the pattern of leave requested;
  • propose an alternative pattern of leave; or
  • refuse the pattern of leave requested.

If agreement is reached within those two weeks, the employee is entitled to take the leave on the dates agreed.

If no agreement has been reached within that two-week discussion period, the employee is entitled to take the leave as one continuous period of leave. In that event, the employee must choose a start date for the leave that is at least eight weeks from the date on which the period of leave notice was originally given. The employee must notify their line manager of that date within five days of the end of the two-week discussion period. If the employee does not choose a start date within five days of the end of the two-week discussion period, the period of continuous leave will start on the date of the first period of leave requested in the period of leave notice.

Alternatively, if the line manager has refused the request or no agreement has been reached during the two-week discussion period, the employee may withdraw a period of leave notice requesting discontinuous periods of leave. The employee can withdraw a period of leave notice at any time on or before the 15th day after the period of leave notice was given. A notice for discontinuous leave that has been withdrawn before it is agreed does not count towards the total number of requests for leave that an employee can make.

Amount of shared parental pay available

RoS pays employees with the required one year's service their normal pay during any shared parental leave period that they take.

Where you satisfy the qualification criteria for this benefit, you will be required to confirm in writing that you agree to repay any occupational maternity pay received (less any Statutory Shared Parental Pay), should you decide not to return to work and complete the equivalent of one month's paid service following your maternity leave, consecutive unpaid special leave or consecutive career break. You will be asked to confirm this by signing a "Statement of Intention and Undertaking to Repay Salary".

If you do not have 1 years' continuous service but meet the qualifying criteria you are entitled to be paid Statutory Shared Parental Pay. This is payable to either parent who is on Shared Parental Leave. The current rate of Statutory Shared Parental Pay can be found at www.gov.uk or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

Rights during shared parental leave

During shared parental leave, all terms and conditions of the employee's contract except normal pay will continue. Salary will be replaced by enhanced shared parental pay under the RoS' enhanced shared parental pay scheme if the employee is eligible for it.

This means that, while sums payable by way of salary will cease, all other benefits will remain in place. For example, holiday entitlement will continue to accrue and pension contributions will continue to be paid.

Contact during shared parental leave

RoS reserves the right to maintain reasonable contact with employees during shared parental leave. This may be to discuss employees' plans for their return to work, to discuss any special arrangements to be made or training to be given to ease their return to work or to update them on developments at work during their absence.

An employee can agree to work for RoS (or to attend training) for up to 20 days during shared parental leave without that work bringing the period of his/her shared parental leave and pay to an end. These are known as "shared-parental-leave-in-touch" (SPLIT) days.

RoS has no right to require employees to carry out any work and employees have no right to undertake any work during their shared parental leave. Any work undertaken on SPLIT days, is entirely a matter for agreement between the employee and the line manager.

You will continue to receive pay under the organisation's enhanced shared parental pay scheme for any week during which you attend work for SPLIT days.

Annual leave

The employee has the right to resume working in the same job when returning to work from shared parental leave if the period of leave, when added to any other period of shared parental leave, statutory maternity leave or statutory paternity leave taken by the employee in relation to the same child, is 26 weeks or less.

If the employee is returning to work from shared parental leave and the period of leave taken is more than 26 weeks, when added to any other period of shared parental leave, statutory maternity or paternity leave taken in relation to the same child, or was the last of two or more consecutive periods of statutory leave that included a period of ordinary parental leave of more than four weeks, or a period of additional maternity leave, the employee has the right to return to the same job unless this is not reasonably practicable. In these circumstances, if it is not reasonably practicable for RoS to permit a return to the same job, the employee has the right to return to another job that is suitable and appropriate for him/her.