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Family Leave Rights are changing – here’s what you need to know

by in HR - Human Resources, Staff

business woman in the workplace does records in a diaryYou may have heard about Shared Parental Leave which is coming into effect on 5th April this year. Employees are now entitled to a whole host of different types of family leave, some of which are changing on 5th April, some of which are not, and it’s easy to get confused. So here’s a helpful summary of the various family leave entitlements along with the key facts that you need to know.

Maternity Leave

All pregnant employees (regardless of length of service) have the right to take up to 26 weeks’ Ordinary Maternity Leave and up to a further 26 weeks’ Additional Maternity Leave and to resume work afterwards. Employees who have at least 26 weeks’ service (by 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth) are also entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), subject to a minimum earnings requirement.

Adoption Leave

Adoption Leave entitlements are changing on 5th April to bring them in line with Maternity Leave. So employees who adopt will be entitled to 52 weeks leave from day one of employment (previously they needed to have 6 months service). Statutory Adoption Pay is also changing on 5th April and it will be the same as Statutory Maternity Pay.

Paternity Leave

Statutory Paternity Leave is available to fathers, adoptive fathers and partners of a child’s mother/adopter (which includes same-sex partners), who have at least 26 weeks’ service (by 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth) and who will have responsibility for the child’s upbringing. The entitlement is to take either one or two weeks’ paternity leave in a single block within eight weeks of the birth or adoption. Statutory Paternity Pay is payable during the leave (subject to a minimum earnings requirements).

Previously there was an entitlement to take further leave called Additional Paternity Leave. This will no longer be available from 5th April as it is being replaced by the new Shared Parental Leave rights (see below).

Shared Parental Leave

This entitlement is available for parents who have a baby or adopt a child from 5th April. Eligible mothers can volunteer to end their maternity/adoption leave early and the remainder of their leave / pay can be shared with their partner. They can take this ‘Shared Parental Leave’ pot at the same time or take it in turns to have periods of leave.

Unlike Maternity or Adoption Leave, Shared Parental Leave can be taken in up to 3 separate blocks, rather than in one go, although you have the right to refuse such requests and you can ask the employee to take it as a single block of leave instead.

Parental Leave

Parental Leave is completely separate from Shared Parental Leave and it can be taken in addition to Maternity, Adoption, Paternity and Shared Parental Leave. Employees with at least 1 year’s service can take up to 18 weeks unpaid leave, and from 5th April, this can be taken any time up to the child’s 18th birthday. Parental Leave must be taken in a minimum block of 1 week, and a maximum of 4 weeks leave can be taken in any one year.

Time off for Dependants

Employees are allowed to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off work to deal with emergencies involving a dependant (spouse, partner, child, grandchild, parent or someone else who depends on them for care). There is no entitlement for this leave to be paid but you can choose to pay it if you wish. Dependants leave is for unforseen emergencies such as illness or death, and is not for planned time off to care for dependants.

Written by Stuart Hearn
[email protected]
Tel: 020 8819 3220

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Practice Index

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