Shared Parental Leave


Having adopted 2 children, I was made aware of shared parental leave and it wasn’t something that I’d heard of before. It enables both parties in a couple to share the usual ‘maternity’ leave duration. This is so that they each get to spend quality time with their children at the early stages. In the past the two weeks parental leave hasn’t seemed enough. So this is a lovely way for the responsibility and joy to be shared.

What does that mean for your business?

Shared Parental Leave is designed to give parents more flexibility in how to share the care of their child in the first year following birth or adoption. Parents will be able to share a pot of leave, and can decide to be off work at the same time and/or take it in turns to have periods of leave to look after the child.

As with many such changes, it is likely to have a bigger impact on smaller business than large corporates. In a small business where both partners are employed, the impact could be quite significant.

What hasn’t changed is the mother’s requirement to take a compulsory two weeks period of maternity leave after the birth. After this two week period the remainder of the mother’s maternity leave can be shared, provided both the mother and her partner qualify.

An employee can apply for three blocks of leave, which must be taken as complete weeks and which can be taken as continuous or discontinuous periods. Unlike current flexible work request legislation, employers cannot refuse requests for continuous periods, but they can refuse discontinuous periods. In the latter case the total amount of leave will become a continuous period unless the request is withdrawn by the employee.

It is impossible to say how these changes will affect your business and it is likely to depend on the individual economic circumstances of your employees. What is most important for you as the business owner or manager is communication.

The sooner that you communicate with your employees the better. Additionally, the sooner you understand your employees intentions the better able you are to establish the impact on your business. This will also allow you to accommodate Shared Parental Leave requests or not.

What is most important is that you do meet your minimum legal requirements at the time of any request that you receive. There are some brilliant online help guides from ACAS. We are affiliated with a number of legal professionals that we can put you in touch with to make sure that you’re compliant when you get your first request. If you haven’t already!

If you’d like further assistance on this matter and advice on how to ‘plug the gap’ during shared parental leave then drop us a line!
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