Parental Leave: A Guide For The Perplexed

Image Credit: Flickr Commons, Tullio Saba – The Jack Storey Family waving from a car 1950

Do you know your ‘ordinary parental leave’ from your ‘shared parental leave’? It can all get rather confusing…. Following a recent case where a father won a sex discrimination case because his employers didn’t enhance his shared parental pay, it’s become an area that is not entirely straight forward to navigate. However, here is a brief run-down of the facts but as ever, do get in touch if you’d like some additional support on the subject.

1. Statutory Maternity Leave

A pregnant employee has a right to take 52 weeks’ maternity leave. There’s no requirement for a minimum period of qualifying service: maternity leave is a right from day one. However, to qualify for statutory maternity pay, a pregnant employee must meet certain criteria. It is payable for up to 39 weeks. The first six are payable at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings. The remaining 33 weeks are paid at the flat rate in force at the time or at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings where this figure is less than the flat rate.

2. Statutory Adoption Leave

An eligible employee who has adopted a child, or who is one of a couple who have jointly adopted a child, is entitled to take 52 weeks’ adoption leave. Adoption leave is a right from day one and statutory adoption pay mirrors statutory maternity pay.

3. Statutory Paternity Leave

An employee who is the biological father of a child, or the mother’s husband or partner, has the right to take either one week’s or two consecutive weeks’ paternity leave. The right also applies to an employee who is one of a couple who have jointly adopted a child or who is the spouse or partner of an individual who has adopted a child. To qualify for paternity leave, an employee needs to have a minimum period of service with the employer. Employees are entitled to one week’s or two weeks’ statutory paternity pay if they meet certain eligibility requirements. Statutory paternity pay is paid at the flat rate in force at the time or at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings where this figure is less than the flat rate.

4. Shared Parental Leave

Shared parental leave is available to mothers and fathers (or the mother’s partner) and to adopters and their partners. It enables mothers or adopters to bring their maternity or adoption leave and pay to an end and choose to take shared parental leave and pay with their partners. Up to 50 weeks’ shared parental leave can be shared between them.

To qualify for the leave, both the mother or adopter and his or her partner must meet various eligibility requirements. They must also comply with the relevant curtailment, notice and evidence requirements. All shared parental leave must be taken within the first 52 weeks following the child’s birth or placement for adoption. Up to 37 weeks’ statutory shared parental pay is available for the individuals to share between them, provided they are eligible to receive it.

5. Ordinary Parental Leave

Ordinary parental leave is available to any employee who is the birth or adoptive parent of a child under the age of 18. The leave gives the employee the right to take up to 18 weeks’ leave to care for the child at any time up to the child’s 18th birthday. To qualify for ordinary parental leave, an employee needs to have a minimum period of service with his or her employer. Ordinary parental leave is unpaid.

We hope that’s started to clear things up for you, but please always get in touch if you’d like further advice on this tricky subject. Call us on 01386 751 740 or [email protected]