Shared Parental Leave Policy

Introduction

This policy outlines the statutory right to take shared parental leave (SPL) to care for a child born or placed for adoption on or after 5th April 2015. It also outlines the arrangements and notification requirements that must be in place before a period of SPL, and outlines the entitlement to pay during SPL.

SPL gives employees with caring responsibilities for babies or newly adopted children the opportunity to share up to 52 weeks’ leave should they wish to do so. Parents taking SPL can request leave in separate blocks, returning to work in between blocks, and can be on leave at the same time. Eligible employees are automatically entitled to take SPL on the dates requested so long as the request in question is for a single continuous period of leave.

Employees and managers should where possible have an informal discussion prior to employees giving formal notification of intention to take SPL so that the statutory (and contractual) entitlements to other types of leave and pay can be discussed, and to ensure that plans for any discontinuous periods of leave can be considered as early as possible.

Requests for SPL which are not made in accordance with the statutory notification requirements will be given reasonable consideration, but might not be granted.

Eligibility

To qualify for SPL all the following must apply:

(Each will be referred to in this policy as the parent). 

If the other parent meets the employment and earnings test, but does not qualify for SPL, you will still be entitled to the whole SPL period – the main advantage being the ability to request leave in different blocks and return to work in between those blocks.

You must also follow the statutory notification and information requirements detailed below.

Amount and timing of SPL

The amount of SPL available is whatever remains of the 52 weeks' maternity/adoption leave as at the date specified in the employee's notice to curtail maternity/adoption leave (or at the date on which the employee returns to work from maternity/adoption leave).

After the birth/adoption of a child it is compulsory to take a minimum two weeks’ maternity/adoption leave.  Therefore in all cases the maximum amount of SPL that can be available is 50 weeks.

SPL must be taken in complete weeks.  For example, if a block of SPL starts on a Wednesday it must end on a Tuesday. If the initial period of maternity or adoption leave ends with an incomplete week, the whole of that week will be subtracted from the 52 weeks’ maximum and the SPL will be deemed to begin at the start of the following week of the pay period.

Entitlement to Shared Parental Pay

Statutory Entitlement

In addition to the requirements regarding entitlement to leave outlined above, if you wish to claim statutory Shared Parental Pay (SShPP) you must have average weekly earnings equal to or above the lower earnings limit (a statutory limit set by the government) over the eight week period ending with the relevant week.

The maximum amount of SShPP payable is calculated by subtracting from 39 weeks the number of weeks’ statutory maternity/adoption pay  (or maternity allowance) taken  at the date the individual returns to work or at the date specified in their notice to curtail their maternity/adoption leave.  For example, if an individual decides to curtailing their maternity leave at 10 weeks, there will be (39-10) = 29 weeks’ SShPP available. Since all individuals entitled to maternity/adoption leave are required to take a minimum of two weeks’ maternity/adoption leave, the maximum possible SShPP entitlement available is 37 weeks.

SShPP is a standard weekly rate (or 90% of the employee’s normal weekly earnings if this is lower) which is set by the government each tax year.

You must follow the statutory notification and information requirements detailed below.

Occupational Entitlement

Occupational Shared Parental Pay (OShPP) is payable to employees on shared parental leave who have completed at least 26 weeks’ continuous service for the University into the 'relevant week' (see above), regardless of earnings or the number of hours worked.

If you qualify for OShPP you can choose between the following two options. It is important to note that these set out a hypothetical maximum based on Occupational Maternity Pay.  To calculate the actual amount of OShPP entitlement, the number of weeks’ statutory maternity/adoption pay or maternity allowance taken or planned to be taken is deducted from the start of the chosen option.

For example, if ten weeks' maternity/adoption leave and pay are planned to be taken before curtailment, then the OShPP entitlement would be calculated by starting at week 11 of the chosen option.

Option 1

8 weeks x full pay (inclusive of the statutory SShPP entitlement); followed by
16 weeks x half pay plus SShPP; followed by
15 weeks x SShPP followed by
13 weeks unpaid leave.

Option 2

16 weeks x full pay
(inclusive of the statutory SShPP entitlement); followed by
23 weeks x SShPP; followed by
13 weeks unpaid leave.

Since all individuals entitled to maternity/adoption leave who wish to make SPL available are required to take a minimum of two weeks’ maternity/adoption leave, the maximum possible OShPP entitlement available starts at week three of the chosen option – i.e. 6 weeks x full pay etc. under Option 1 and 14 weeks x full pay etc. under Option 2.

If you and your partner take SPL at the same time, the leave entitlement will be shared between the two of you over the period.  In all cases, OShPP will only be paid only to eligible employees of the University, and only for the weeks of leave allocated specifically to them during the period.

Where you have previously claimed occupational maternity/adoption pay you will only be allowed to claim OShPP under the equivalent option.

If you do not return to work at the end of the SPL period or if you return for less than three months (excluding any accrued annual leave taken prior to your return) OShPP (minus SShPP) must be repaid to the University.

Fixed-term contracts

If you are on a fixed-term contract due to expire during SPL or within three months following your return to work you should talk to your School/Department and Faculty/Divisional HR Manager at the earliest opportunity to discuss the possibility of an extension to your contract. Where no extension is possible, OShPP can be claimed up to the last day of your employment with the University. Under these circumstances the University will not seek to recover this money even though you will not be returning to work following the OShPP period.

Pension arrangements

If you are a member of a University pension scheme you are entitled to remain so for the duration of your SPL providing that you continue to meet the terms of the scheme. The University will continue to pay contributions where the employee does the same, and these contributions will be outside of the Pension Salary Exchange Scheme.

If you are in the Pension Salary Exchange Scheme, OShPP will be based on Reference Pay. You will continue to participate in the Pension Salary Exchange Scheme while in receipt of OShPP unless you opt out of the scheme under a 'lifestyle event'. The amount exchanged will be based on the OShPP actually received, so during periods of half pay the amount exchanged will be based on the half pay received.

It is not possible to salary exchange from statutory pay. When in receipt of SShPP only, SShPP cannot be reduced under the Pension Salary Exchange Scheme. The University will pay the additional pension contributions while in receipt of SShPP only, as if you are on full pay for the period.

For further advice and guidance please contact the University’s Pensions Office.

Notification Requirements

The notification requirements for SPL and ShPP are very specific and detailed. You will be provided with a form to assist you to provide the required information and declarations.

Notice of Entitlement and intention to take Shared Parental Leave and Pay

You must notify the University in writing at least eight weeks before the start date of the first period of SPL. The written notice must contain the following information:

Notice of curtailment of statutory maternity/adoption leave and payments

At the same time that a notice of entitlement and intention to take SPL is submitted, the individual entitled to maternity/adoption leave must give their employer a leave and pay curtailment notice giving at least eight weeks’ notice of the date on which maternity/adoption leave and pay is to end.  If an individual is only entitled to maternity allowance (and not maternity leave) their notice of curtailment must be submitted to Jobcentre Plus.

Notice of curtailment of maternity/adoption leave and/or pay cannot usually be reversed and, once curtailed, the individual who was entitled to maternity/adoption leave can only access the resulting shared parental leave and pay with the other parent’s consent (and vice versa).   

Notice of curtailment of maternity/adoption can only be revoked in one of the following circumstances:

Notice to take a specific period of SPL and ShPP

A maximum of three 'period of leave' notices can be made by each parent. Each notice can be a request for either a single (i.e. a 'continuous') period of leave or for more than one period of leave (i.e. a 'discontinuous' period).

In practice, at least the first period of SPL will be identified in the initial notice of entitlement and intention to take SPL. You are entitled to submit a maximum of a further two ‘period of leave’ notices. Each notice must be given at least eight weeks before the start of a period of leave, stating the dates of the leave and the dates on which ShPP will be claimed, if applicable.

If the first ‘period of leave’ notice is given prior to the birth of a child, the notice may express the start date in relation to the date of birth, for example ‘starting two weeks after the baby is born for a period of four weeks’.

Confirmation of SPL and ShPP

If a continuous period of leave is requested in each period of leave notice, you will be entitled to take that period of leave and this will be confirmed in writing.

If more than one period of leave is requested in a period of leave notice, your manager will seek to accommodate the request but this cannot be guaranteed. Your manager will discuss the request with you to determine if it can be accommodated. If it cannot be accommodated, there may be an alternative pattern of leave which can be agreed, or the request may be refused. The manager’s decision will be confirmed in writing.

If no agreement is reached within two weeks of the period of leave notice being submitted you can:

Varying a period of leave

You are entitled to submit a request to vary a period of leave in the following ways:

A variation will count as one of your three ‘period of leave’ notices unless either:

The usual eight-week notice requirement may be modified if your child is born early and the new start date for the period of leave follows the birth by the same length of time as in the original notice. In this case notice to vary the start date should be given as soon as reasonably practicable after the birth of the child.

Evidence Requirements

The University may request a copy of the child’s birth certificate and the name and address of the other parent’s employer.
In the case of adoption or fostering for adoption, the University may request the name and address of the other parent’s employer, along with evidence confirming the following:

In the case of Parental Order parents, the University may request a statutory declaration from the employee confirming that they intend to apply for a Parental Order with the other intended parent within the prescribed time limit.

You must respond to the request for evidence within 14 days (or within 14 days of the birth of the child if the request was made before the child was born).

SPLIT Days

You are entitled to up to 20 SPL in Touch (SPLIT) days without bringing the SPL to an end, but work during SPL will not have the effect of extending your SPL period. If you work, you will be paid your normal rate of pay inclusive of any ShPP entitlement. You are under no obligation to work during SPL, and the University is under no obligation to offer work.

The 20 SPLIT days available during SPL are in addition to the 10 KIT days available during maternity and adoption leave.

Terms and Conditions during SPL

Contractual Benefits
You will continue to receive your usual contractual benefits during your SPL period (apart from your remuneration, which, if you are eligible, will be paid as Shared Parental Pay in accordance with the shared parental leave policy).

Salary Progression
On your return to work, your salary will be reviewed to take into account any increment or general increase which would have applied had you not been on SPL.

Continuity of service
Your contract of employment continues throughout SPL and your continuity of service will not be broken.

Annual Leave
While you are on SPL your contractual annual leave entitlement (excluding bank holidays) continues to accrue.

Any annual leave accrued before SPL starts should be taken during that leave year.

Any annual leave or University closure days that will accrue while on SPL during the annual leave year in which SPL begins should be taken:

Any annual leave or University Closure Days accrued whilst on SPL during the annual leave year in which you return may be taken either:

Where it is agreed that you will return to work on the basis of reduced contractual hours of work, your new reduced hours should not normally take effect until any leave accrued under the previous contractual hours has been taken. This effectively means that you may officially return to work on X day, take your outstanding holiday accrued at your previous (e.g. full-time) contractual hours and then physically return to work and start your new reduced hours on Y date. 

Returning from SPL

If you wish to return early from SPL, or extend the period of your SPL, you must notify the University at least eight weeks before both the original end date and the new end date.

If you return to work immediately after a period of SPL which (together with any statutory maternity/adoption leave you may have taken to care for the same child) was 26 weeks or more you will normally be entitled to return to the job in which you were employed before your absence. If that is not reasonably practicable for the University, then you will return to another job which is both suitable and appropriate in the circumstances.

You are entitled to return on terms and conditions no less favourable than those that would have been applied if you had not been absent, and with the same level of seniority, pension rights and similar rights.

Legal

This policy is in accordance with both the Children & Families Act (2014) and the Employment Rights Act 1996.


Updated August 2016