April 7, 2015

Royds warns businesses to put shared parental leave procedures in place

City-based law firm Royds is reminding businesses to update their employment policies and staff handbooks to ensure they meet the changes to parental leave that came into force at the end of last year.

Share parental leave is a new legal right that allows couples to share maternity or adoption leave and pay.

Couples currently expecting a child will be among the first people eligible to take advantage of the new rights which apply to babies born on or after April 5th, 2015.

Under the old system women were able to take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave and to receive 39 weeks of pay, but now working families will have the opportunity to share this leave between both parents.

Leave can be taken in several blocks and eligible parents must be permitted to take up to three blocks of leave in the first year after the child’s birth, returning to work between periods of leave if they wish.

Parents who adopt a child will have the same rights.

Gemma Ospedale, a Partner in Royds’ employment team, said: “Businesses need to be aware of their new legal responsibilities under shared parental leave. Failure to allow either parent the time off they are permitted under law could land them in legal hot water.

“Preparing now by establishing robust procedures for parental leave is the best way to ensure that you remain on the right side of the law. This could include setting out the process for notifying you as an employer and the booking of leave, to ensure the needs of both the businesses and employee are fairly met.”

According to estimates from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, there are expected to be around 258,000 working couples who will be eligible to share their leave from April and most businesses will at some point have to deal with requests for shared parental leave.

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