Around Father’s Day, the government issued a news release reminding “dads” of the right to share up to 37 weeks’ pay and 50 weeks of leave in both maternity and adoption cases
I can’t recall Shared Parental being properly publicised when it first became a statutory right over a year ago. This was disappointing and possibly one of the reasons that the take-up has been so poor among eligible people. Simply, people do not know it exists.
Around Father’s Day, the government issued a news release reminding “dads” of the right to share up to 37 weeks’ pay and 50 weeks of leave in both maternity and adoption cases. This is in the first year of the child’s life or placement and the leave can be taken in continuous or discontinuous blocks. The word “dad” is misleading, as the main factor regarding eligibility is the commitment to share in the caring of the child.
It is admirable that the government has issued this news story. I would recommend that all employers have a read. However, it is probably less admirable that they made the regime so complicated in the first place!
Of course, promoting this family-friendly right is not only a government responsibility and employers should consider playing their part. After all, in most surveys that are undertaken on what matters most to employees, a good work-life balance is always near the top. UK employers really need to make sure they are conversant with the regime and have procedures in place to accommodate it. It may never happen in an organisation, but all it takes is someone that knows their rights (or be partnered to someone like me!). Therefore, here are some pointers:
Ensure that you have updated your internal policies. This is not only for the statutory payment itself but your holiday, redundancy, right to return and pension parts will have to change as well.
Forms and letters
The Shared Parental regime brings with it a plethora of forms and declarations that the employee has to complete. Further, there are a number of letters that the employer should write to the employee confirming or refusing any request. This is one of the reasons why I said they could not have made the legislation any more complicated if they tried. At the very minimum, the employee will need to have the notification of entitlement and intent, the booking form and the curtailment notice.
Consider whether you will match Shared with any occupational regimes that you may have in place for maternity and adoption pay. There is no statutory obligation. However, I feel employers should be aware of the potential for discrimination claims if occupational applies to maternity and adoption but not to Shared.
As this is a statutory payment, this should be part of payroll software. But it is worth checking and, importantly, making sure you know how to use it.
Of course, employees need to be made aware of this statutory right (if they haven’t been already). However, possibly more importantly, the concept of sharing maternity and adoption leave involves a cultural change of attitude that needs to be communicated at all levels within an organisation. Shared Parental must be seen as the accepted norm, which will, undoubtedly, involve a change of attitude and approach for all employees.
Many organisations will provide training and issue template policies, letters and forms – at a price. So, why not get the information for free via the ACAS website? Some of it is not pretty. However, it is available in Word format so it can be customised quite easily. Or, do an internet search. There is plenty of guidance out there, some better than others.
Shared Parental will be extended to include working grandparents in Great Britain, probably from 2018. If employers get the existing regime into their policies, procedures and cultures, the extension will be easier to accommodate.