what is shared maternity leave

What is Shared Maternity Leave?

In recent decades, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of what is shared maternity leave in the UK. This policy also referred to as shared parental leave or shared maternity leave, allows eligible parents to share the responsibility of caring for their newborn or adopted child and helps reduce the gender gap in the workplace. In this article, we will discuss the current status of this policy, the challenges employers and employees face in implementing and complying with it, and its potential benefits for individuals, families, and society.


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What is Shared Maternity Leave and Who can Take this Leave?

Shared maternity Leave is a scheme that allows eligible parents to share the responsibility of childcare and work responsibilities more equitably during their child’s first year of life. Out of 50 weeks, both parents must take at least two weeks each, either at the same time or at different times.

The parents who can take Shared maternity Leave are those who have a newborn child, an adopted child, a child placed for adoption or a child who has been in the care of the local authority after being removed from a parent or guardian.


What are the Qualifying Conditions for Shared Maternity Leave?

The qualifying conditions for Shared maternity Leave in the UK are as follows:

  1. The person seeking to take Shared maternity Leave must be an employee of an organisation that has at least 50 employees.
  2. The employee must have completed at least 26 weeks of continuous employment with that organisation before the starting date of the leave.
  3. The employee must not be on a fixed-term contract that is due to end before the end of the 52 weeks of maternity/paternity leave.
  4. The employer must not decline the request for Shared maternity Leave because it will put the organisation under serious financial strain or cause serious disruption to the organisation’s operations.
  5. The employee must use their period of Shared maternity Leave to undertake childcare responsibilities, such as looking after their child or supporting their partner to do so.


What are Occupational Shared Maternity Pay Policies?

Occupational Shared maternity Pay policies are employer-specific policies that provide additional financial support to employees who take parental leave. Employers develop these policies to attract and retain employees who have or are planning to have children. These policies often go beyond the statutory requirements and provide more generous terms for employees to take paid parental leave.

Occupational Shared maternity Pay policies can include, but are not limited to:

  1. Additional weeks of paid leave: Some employers may offer additional weeks beyond the statutory requirements for both mothers and fathers.
  2. Extension of parental leave: Some employers may allow for an extension with full pay and benefits.
  3. Partial pay during parental leave: Some employers may offer partial pay, which is a percentage of an employee’s base salary.
  4. Shared Parental Pay: Some employers may offer Shared maternity Pay schemes that allow for paid and unpaid leave.
  5. Return to Work: Some employers also provide support packages to help employees return to work after parental leave, such as flexible working hours, job sharing, and child care support.


Maternity Allowance and Shared Parental Leave

Shared parental leave (SPL) is a policy that allows both mothers and fathers to care for their newborn or adopted child. It allows the parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of paid parental leave. In addition to this, the UK government also offers a statutory maternity allowance (SMA) to eligible mothers. So, the question is whether SPLs have an impact on SMA.

It’s crucial to understand that SPLs and SMAs work together to support families during their transition into parenthood. While SMAs are essential financial support for mothers needing an extended maternity leave, SPLs provide flexibility to enable both parents to care for their child actively.


How to Give Notice for Shared Maternity Leave?

When giving notice for shared maternity leave, it’s essential to plan and communicate your intentions clearly to your employer. Here’s an overview of what you need to consider when giving notice:

  1. Determine your eligibility: To be eligible for shared maternity leave, you must be employed for at least 26 weeks and have earned at least £163 (or equivalent) per week before tax. You and your partner must also be the birth or adoptive parent, or the non-birth parent who intends to become the person responsible for the child.
  2. Communicate your plans: It’s important to inform your employer about your plans to take shared maternity leave early on. This will allow them to make the necessary preparations and support your transition into parenthood. You can start by having an informal conversation with your manager or HR representative to discuss the details of your leave.
  3. Check company policies: Your employer may have their policies and procedures for SPL.
  4. Confirm with HR: After you have reviewed your employer’s policies and decided on the dates for your leave, it’s essential to confirm with HR about the leave you have selected. You must submit a formal leave application, including the date you intend to commence your leave, your planned leave duration, and your preferred schedule for sharing leave with your partner.
  5. Discuss return to work: When giving notice, it’s also important to discuss your return to work plans with your manager. This will allow them to plan for covering your responsibilities while you are on leave and to prepare for your return to the workplace.


Rights During Shared Maternity Leave

Shared maternity leave or shared paternity leave gives eligible individuals the right to a period of paid time off work to care for their newborn child or adopted child. Here are some of the key rights provided in the UK during shared paternity leave:

1. Right to Paid Leave: During the leave period, eligible individuals have the right to 50 weeks of paid leave, divided between both parents. The first six weeks after the child’s birth must be taken by the mother, and the next 37 weeks can then be shared between both parents, with up to 14 weeks allocated to each parent for their exclusive use.
2. Right to Protection from Discrimination: Individuals who take shared paternity leave have the right to be protected from discrimination based on their gender or their decision to take leave. Employers must not treat employees who take shared paternity leave differently from those who do not.
3. Right to Return to Work: Employees who take shared paternity leave have the right to return to their job, or a job of similar status and pay, at the end of the leave period. Employers must not discriminate against employees who take or have taken shared paternity leave and must not dismiss or discriminate against an employee because they take or have taken leave.
4. Right to Flexible Work Arrangements: Employers must consider these requests fairly and not discriminate against employees requesting flexible work arrangements.
5. Right to Advice and Information: Employees who take or are planning to take shared paternity leave have the right to receive guidance and advice from their employer, including information on their rights, the process for taking leave, and how to return to work.


The Bottom Line

In conclusion, the answer to what is shared maternity leave will provide eligible parents with a valuable opportunity to spend time caring for their newborn or adopted child, without risking their job security or financial stability. Implementing this policy has created new opportunities for fathers to build meaningful relationships with their children and become more active participants in their development from an early age.


Disclaimer: The information about shared maternity leave is provided in this article, including text and graphics. It does not intend to disregard any of the professional advice.

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