Will Employers be left holding the baby?

Sarah-Varani-150x150Shared Parental Leave and pay will be available for employees with babies due on or after 5 April 2015, and for employees who are adopting where the child is placed for adoption on or after that date. This follows the new right for fathers and partners to take time off to attend antenatal appointments which came in on 1 October.

Shared Parental Leave is intended to give working families more flexibility and choices over when and who takes leave during the first year of their child’s life or adoption, allowing parents to be off together if they wish.

BIS estimates that around 285,000 working couples will be eligible for Shared Parental Leave from April but believes that only between 2% and 6% of fathers will take up the new leave rights.

However, Shared Parental Leave will not replace current maternity, adoption and statutory paternity leave. The two week compulsory maternity leave period immediately following the birth of a child or adoption placement will also remain in place along with the current two weeks statutory paternity leave, meaning that parents can still choose to take leave following a birth or adoption placement in line with the current system. This effectively allows fathers or partners can take both the two weeks statutory paternity leave and Shared Parental Leave if they wish.

The Additional Paternity Leave scheme introduced in 2011, which allows the child’s father or the mother’s partner to take up to 26 weeks’ leave, will be abolished from 5 April 2015. If expectant fathers or partners wish to take a longer period of family leave, they would need to do so via the new Shared Parental Leave regime.
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Want to spend more time with your “little darlings”?

Sarah-Varani-150x150Changes to unpaid parental leave came into force on the 8th March. New mothers and fathers will be entitled to more unpaid time off work as their entitlement has increased from 13 to 18 weeks total leave per child. (This should not be confused with ordinary paternity leave, additional paternity leave or the Government’s newly proposed “shared parental leave” which is due to come into force in 2015.)

This is in response to an EU Parental Leave Directive, which was originally due for implementation in March 2012. The Government chose to defer making the change by taking advantage of the provisions under the Directive which allowed them to do so.
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New guide to maternity rights and redundancy

Acas and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have published a new guide advising employers on the rights of workers who are pregnant or on maternity leave and facing redundancy.

Managing redundancy for pregnant employees or those on maternity leave’ explains this area of law and suggests how best to handle the situation. The guide asks employers four key questions to consider when deciding who to make redundant:
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Baby on board! A guide to maternity and paternity workplace rights

As much as we like to think we can have it all, all at once, the BBC’s Babies in the Office programme about Addison Lee’s radical scheme offers clear evidence that children in the workplace doesn’t tend to make for an easy life. So, for the majority of us, that stick turning blue means we need to find the best way to break the news to our employer and negotiate the tricky terrain of maternity or paternity leave.

Expectant mums

Start the conversation early
As a pregnant employee, you have the right to 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave, which combined makes up the 52 weeks of guaranteed Statutory Maternity Leave.

However, the earlier you tell your employer of your decision to take leave, the more accommodating they’re likely to be and the more time you have to arrange cover and ensure a smooth transition.

Regardless, you have inform them 15 weeks before the beginning of your due week to qualify for full Statutory Maternity Leave (or as soon as possible if you couldn’t at that stage – for example, if you didn’t know you were pregnant).

Put it in writing
You need to inform your employer of your situation in writing, even if you’ve already done so verbally. Use our ‘Maternity leave letter’ to give them the legally required information that ensures your leave, such as when the baby is due and when you want to start and finish your leave.

Your employer may also ask for a MAT B1 maternity certificate, which confirms the due date. You can get one from your doctor or midwife once you’ve been pregnant for at least 21 weeks.

If for any reason you need to change start date of your leave, use this letter to make a formal request. You’ll need to give your employer at least 28 days’ notice before the new start date (if you’re bringing it forward) or 28 days’ notice before the original start date (if you want to push it back).

Expectant dads

Do you qualify?
You’re entitled to Ordinary Paternity Leave (up to two weeks) if you’re taking time off to support the mother or carer of the baby and you are the:

  • Biological father
  • Child’s adopter
  • Or husband/partner of the biological or adoptive mother

This also applies to same-sex relationships.

Note that you’ll need to have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks by either the end of the 15th week before the due week or the end of the week you’re notified of an adoptive match to guarantee leave.

Your leave can start on any day of the week (but not before the baby is born) and must finish within 56 days of the birth. You can change the start date of your leave as long as you give at least 28 days’ notice.

If you’re a worker rather than an employee, you won’t qualify for automatic leave, but you may still qualify for Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay (which is paid for up to two consecutive weeks).

Some employers have their own leave arrangements, which are more generous than the statutory entitlement. Check your employment contract or contact HR to find out what your company offers.

Put it in writing
Notify your employer with this letter that you want to take Ordinary Paternity Leave and – if applicable – receive Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay. You’ll need to give them legally required information, such as when the baby is due and when you want to start and finish your leave. You must inform them at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the due week.

Use this letter if you want to request paternity leave – and pay if applicable – for an adoption. The notice period is within seven days of being informed by the adoption agency that you’ve been matched with a child.

If you’re not sure whether you’re entitled to leave and/or pay, these letters will help you clarify your situation. Even if you don’t have a statutory entitlement, your employer may still grant you either/both at their discretion.

Mums and Dads

If you’re experiencing problems or you have any further questions, please get in touch with us.

Employers

Clearly communicate your company’s maternity and paternity leave rights in your Employee Handbook. Make sure you update it in line with current employment legislation and contact our expert team if you have any queries.