What employers need to know about Shared Parental Leave

HM Government has launched a campaign to raise awareness of Shared Parental Leave, and to encourage more parents to ‘share the joy’ of looking after their baby in the first year - giving women the option of returning to their careers earlier.

It is important for employers to be aware of all the benefits of Shared Parental Leave, the options that are available and what responsibilities they hold. 

Bringing more skilled women back into the workplace, helping to close the gender pay gap, supports the Government's Industrial Strategy to create a skilled workforce better able to respond to the challenges of the global marketplace.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay help eligible parents to combine work with family life. They can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay and take their leave and pay in a more flexible way (each parent can take up to three blocks of leave – more if their employer allows – and parents are able to intersperse periods of leave with periods of work if they wish).

The leave and pay is ‘created’ when a mother or adopter ends or commits to ending their maternity or adoption entitlement early to opt into the Shared Parental Leave and Pay schemes. An employee will tell their employer if they want to do this and provide them with certain information to enable them to process their request for leave and/or pay.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay enables mothers and adopters who want to return to work early to do so as their partners are able to share childcare responsibly with them. In addition, in contrast to Maternity and Adoption Leave, employees can stop and start Shared Parental Leave and return to work between periods of leave, e.g. during a particularly busy period or to complete a particular project, if they wish.

Giving parents more choice and flexibility to combine work with childcare responsibilities means that more parents are able to work in jobs that match their qualifications and experience. This means that employers are better able to recruit and retain talent.

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