From 5 April 2015, new employment legislation allows parents to Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and pay following the birth or adoption of a child, therefore increasing fathers’ rights.
Employed parents who take SPL will be eligible for a new statutory payment called shared parental pay (ShPP).
ShPP will apply where:
The government has published guidance in order to clarify entitlement for SPL and ShPP. Please note that the answers to the following questions are accurate in respect to births but may vary for adopters
In general, if you are eligible for SPL you should also be eligible for ShPP (subject to completing the relevant paperwork) if you have normal weekly earnings of at least the lower earnings threshold for national insurance contributions. If you have qualified for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) or Statutory Paternity Pay (SAP) you will have met this test.
If you are not an employee you may still qualify for ShPP because it includes anyone who is an “employed earner” for National Insurance purposes (for example, agency workers).
To claim ShPP you must be (or have been) in “employed earners employment” for 26 weeks at the relevant qualification date, provided the other parent also meets particular criteria as to their economic activity.
To satisfy the continuity of employment and normal weekly earning tests, you must:
No, in order for you to qualify for ShPP, your partner must satisfy certain conditions relating to employment and earnings which they will do if:
Practically speaking you and your partner have a total ShPP entitlement of 37 weeks less any weeks (or part of a week) in which the mother received or will receive SMP or MA before curtailing her SMP or MA period. This because mothers must take two weeks’ compulsory maternity leave, for which they will receive SMP or MA.
Assuming both parents qualify for ShPP, you will be able to choose how to divide the ShPP entitlement between you and must notify your employers of this in writing.
For example: if a mother takes six weeks’ maternity leave and during those weeks is paid SMP, there will be 33 weeks of ShPP left for the parents to share between them.
The mother must either have returned to work or curtailed her pay or allowance period. There are also complicated requirements to provide notice and evidence that are almost identical to those required for Shared Parental Leave. These are set in more detail in an Acas practice guide
The weekly rate of ShPP is the lower of:
The difference between SMP and ShPP is that ShPP is capped at a statutory amount for every week for which a parent claims ShPP, while SMP is payable at 90% of actual salary (with no cap) for the first six weeks of maternity leave. This means that most mothers will take maternity leave and pay for at least six weeks to take advantage of the higher rate.
ShPP is paid by the employer of the parent taking the leave. Your employer can recover at least 92% from the government.
There is no statutory requirement for your employer to enhance ShPP and the government considers that there is no need for employers to do so. However some employers are choosing to match their maternity terms. Having unequal pay rights may be a type of discrimination and you may be able to make a legal challenge at an employment tribunal that forces your employer to.