Following suggestions that less than half the public is aware of the scheme, HMRC are promoting awareness of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) rights among employees.
SPL and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) provide flexible childcare options in the first year after the arrival of a new baby, enabling both parents to share childcare, and giving mothers the ability to go back to work sooner. Parents adopting or involved in surrogacy arrangements are also eligible.
SPL involves quite a lot of admin for participating parents - and their employers. Parents, for example, will have to provide the employer with specific information in the form of written notices and declarations. Gov.uk offers model forms, though as a matter of convenience, employers may want to consider creating their own bespoke forms. There is however no legal requirement for them to do so, nor for employees to use them. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy report that one question commonly asked is ‘Will my employer know if I qualify for SPL?’ Employees can be advised that an employer is not in a position to answer this until an employee tells them - because to be eligible, both parents must meet certain conditions.
To qualify, an employee must generally:
- have worked continuously for the same employer for about 40 weeks
- intend to share responsibility for childcare with the other parent
- to claim ShPP, earn at least the lower earnings limit £116 (2018/19) or £113 per week (2017/18), over an eight-week period.
The other parent must also satisfy work and earnings criteria.
Employees should be advised to use the Eligibility Checklists on gov.uk goo.gl/dCicPz.