Shared Parental Leave Changes

Nick Pye |


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We really do adore this stuff
We do enjoy ourselves when legislation changes like this crop up. We see it as an exciting HR software product development challenge and a further way in which we continue to further differentiate and distance ourselves from a growing list of market place competitors. 

We see this as a way in which we can further develop our process-driven HR software, to advise business owners on what’s what, and to support HR and Line Managers to follow the correct procedures following a request to share parental leave.

We will ensure that our Youmanage HR software has pre-defined and robust HR and business processes, and relevant documentation and communication channels are as they need to be. We will ensure compliance measures are adhered to and an audit trail of each individual case is maintained.

New shared parental leave by April 2015
The government has made a commitment to introduce a year of shared leave for new parents in an attempt to allow parents more flexibility in how they take their parental leave.

The notion that women alone can perform the parental care in the period after the child is born is being seen as outdated and that many fathers can and want to be able to do this.

Businesses are to bear the burden of the new shared parental leave rules
The new government plans to allow parents to share their 52 weeks leave following childbirth have been branded a “nightmare” by the Institute of Directors business group.

However, the Institute of Directors has publicly criticised the changes. Their Deputy Director of Policy Alexander Ehmann said: "The proposed system is considerably more complex and unwieldy than the current laws and employers will - once again - have to absorb the cost of adapting and implementing this new system.”

Many small businesses struggle to keep abridged of the rules and regulations surrounding the permitted parental leave at present and the proposed changes only compound this further. They are going to have to invest in systems to be in place to assist them with this complicated process as well as the need to co-ordinate the impact of staff absence in the work place.

Internal questions that you should be asking

  • Do our business owners fully understand their obligations?
  • Will our People Managers know how to respond to any requests for shared parental leave?
  • Do we provide all of our colleagues with the information they need should they wish to consider sharing parental leave and do they know what is expected of them?
  • Will we have adequate, pre-defined, and robust processes in place to ensure compliance measures are adhered to and an audit trail of each individual case?

What the Government says
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said "Women deserve the right to pursue their goals and not feel they have to choose between having a successful career or having a baby," he said.

"They should be supported by their employers, rather than being made to feel less employable or under pressure to take unchallenging jobs.

"It is already illegal to sack a woman because she is pregnant, or on maternity leave, but we want to go further than that. We want to create a fairer society that gives parents the flexibility to choose how they share care for their child in the first year after birth.

"We need to challenge the old-fashioned assumption that women will always be the parent that stays at home, many fathers want that option too."

Mr Clegg added: "There shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all approach; that's not how families are set up. Many businesses already recognise how productive and motivated employees are when they're given the opportunity to work flexibly, helping them retain talent and boost their competitive edge.

"This is good for families, good for business and good for our economy."

How would it all work? Please take a deep breath before continuing to read!
Under the new rules parents are allowed to take a total of 52 weeks off work after having a baby. At present the mother may hand over up to six months of their leave to the father, but this is only when the child reaches 20 weeks old. Now a mother could choose to return to work more quickly, after just 2 weeks in fact, and hand over her unused allowance to the father. They can even switch back to taking later leave themselves if they chose.

Employers must be notified of any shared parental leave at the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. At this point the employee must also give a “non-binding indication” of when they expect to take their shared allocated leave. The mother does have an option to revert to the more traditional maternity leave if she later decides against shared leave, but this is restricted to a window of 6 weeks after the birth. Further notice periods are required within the 52-week potential leave period, where employees have to give at least 8 week's notice of the start date of their leave.

Restrictions apply that means employees may only take three separate sets of leave, or make three changes to the dates they plan to do so, during the 52 weeks. The employers will not be able to refuse leave, but they are able to insist that leave is taken in a continuous block. Meaning that if their employee asks for two 8 week periods of leave they can insist that it is taken as a single 16 week block if desired.

Parents taking total leave of 26 weeks or less over the period will be legally entitled to return to the same job. These 26 weeks do not have to be in a continuous block to count. Those that take off more than this are entitled to return to a role that is similar but not identical to that they held previously.

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Nick has more than 25 years of leadership experience, where he has held a variety of executive positions spanning marketing, business development, HR product strategy and has been CEO of Youmanage since 2010. Nick acquired the Youmanage business in 2010 and led the renewed vision and go-to-market definition of the Youmanage platform for its official re-launch in September 2013. With significant and continued product development, he continues to steer Youmanage as an industry leading cloud HR software provider. Work aside, Nick retains his huge enthusiasm for music in both trumpet and bagpipe playing!