Human Resources

Shared Parental Leave Policy and Procedure

Introduction

This policy explains the rights, responsibilities and arrangements in relation to Shared Parental Leave. It sets out the statutory rights and responsibilities of employees who wish to take statutory SPL and statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP).  Staff wishing to take Shared Parental Leave are required to inform and communicate with their Line Manager as specified in this policy. All written communication must also be copied to their designated HR Advisor, from whom staff may also wish to seek advice. Line Managers have a responsibility to seek advice from their designated HR Advisor to ensure that this policy is being followed for their staff.

1. What is Shared Parental Leave? 

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) enables eligible parents to choose how to share the care of their child during the first year of birth or adoption. Its purpose is to give parents more flexibility in considering how to best care for, and bond with, their child.

All eligible employees have a statutory right to take SPL if they or their partner chooses to end their maternity or adoption leave at any point after the initial two week compulsory maternity/adoption leave period following the birth or adoption of a child.  The remaining leave will be available as SPL. 

The policy uses the following key terms:

  • Mother/Adoptive parent: the mother who gives birth to a child or the person who is eligible for adoption leave and/or pay. They can be of any gender.
  • Partner: the child’s biological father or the partner of the mother/adoptive parent.  This can be a spouse, civil partner; or the partner who is living in an enduring relationship with the mother/adoptive parent and the child.

2. Eligibility

SPL can only be taken by two people:

  • The mother/adoptive parent and
  • One of the following: the father of the child (in the case of birth) or the spouse, civil partner or partner of the child's mother/ adopter.

Additionally an employee must satisfy each of the following criteria in order to qualify for SPL:

  • Share care of the child with your partner - this includes either your husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter, the child’s other parent, your partner (if they live with you and the child).
  • The mother or adoptive parent of the child must be eligible for either statutory maternity leave (SML) or pay (SMP) or statutory adoption leave (SAL) or pay (SAP) or maternity allowance (MA).
  • You, as an employee of the University of Bath must have at least 26 weeks continuous employment with the University by the end of the 15th week (Qualifying Week) before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) or matching date, and
  • You, as an employee of the University of Bath, must still be employed by the University at the start of each period of SPL.
  • You and your partner must give the necessary statutory notices and declarations as outlined in sections 4 and 5 below, including notice to end maternity or adoption leave, statutory maternity/adoption pay (SMP/ADP) or maternity allowance (MA) as appropriate.

Partner’s eligibility

During the 66 weeks before the EWC or matching date of adoption your partner must:

  • have worked (in an employed or self-employed capacity or an agency worker) for at least 26 weeks and;
  • have had average weekly earnings of at least £30 (this figure is correct as of 5th April 2015 but may change annually as determined by the UK government) in any 13 of those weeks.

3. Entitlement

If you are eligible then you can take:

  • A minimum of one week 
  • A maximum of 50 weeks

The actual amount of leave which can be taken will be 52 weeks less the weeks spent by the mother/adoptive parent on maternity/adoption leave (or the weeks in which the mother/adoptive parent has been in receipt of SMP/SAP or MA). The amount left over is converted to SPL which can be shared between both parents. 

When can I take it?

  • The mother can take SPL at any point after the initial two week compulsory maternity leave period following the birth of the child.
  • The adoptive parent can take SPL at any point after taking at least two weeks of adoption leave.
  • The father/partner/spouse can take SPL immediately following the birth/placement of the child, but may first choose to exhaust any paternity leave entitlements (as the father/partner cannot take paternity leave or pay once they have taken any SPL or ShPP).

SPL must end no later than one year after the birth/placement of the child. Any SPL not taken by the first birthday or first anniversary of placement for adoption is lost.

It must be taken in blocks of at least one week.  It can be requested to be taken in one continuous block or as a number of discontinuous blocks of leave.  A maximum of three requests for leave per pregnancy/adoption can be made by each parent.

How does it affect my paternity leave?

SPL is additional to paternity leave entitlement.  If you are the partner and eligible for paternity leave, you should consider taking your two weeks’ paternity leave before taking SPL.  Once you start SPL you will lose any untaken paternity leave entitlement.  

4. Required notices and declarations

Employees who are entitled to and intending to take SPL must give their line manager notification of their entitlement and intention to take to SPL, at least eight weeks before they can take any period of SPL by completing one or more of the application forms set out below, sending a copy of these to your HR Advisor.  The line manager should sign and send the original copies of these forms to their HR Advisor.

The notices that you must give to the University to be able to take SPL are made up of three elements:

i) A maternity/adoption leave curtailment notice

You must give the University at least eight weeks’ written notice to end your or your partner’s maternity/adoption leave before you or your partner* can take SPL. To do this you must complete the Application Form for SPL and pass it to your line manager for authorisation and signature. Keep a copy of the completed signed form and give a copy to your line manager and forward the original to your HR Advisor so that these are received at least eight weeks’ before the start of the first period of SPL.

ii) A notice of entitlement and intention to take SPL

You must provide written notice of entitlement and of your intention to take SPL at least eight weeks’ before the start of the first period of SPL to be taken by completing the following:

The appropriate form must be given to your line manager for authorisation and signature, keep a copy, give a copy to your line manager and then forward the original to your HR Advisor so that so that these are received at least eight weeks’ before the start of the first period of SPL. 

iii) A period of leave of notice

You must set out the start and end dates of each period of shared parental leave you are requesting and follow the guidance set out under Section 9.

5. Documentation confirming eligibility

As well as a completed SPL application leave form, you should provide a copy of the following documentation to both your Line Manager and your HR Advisor within 14 calendar days of submitting your SPL Application Form or Partner’s Notice of Entitlement and Intention to take SPL Form:

  • A copy of the child's birth certificate (or, where one has not been issued, a declaration as to the time and place of the birth) or
  • Documentary evidence of the name and address of the adoption agency, the date on which you were notified of having been matched with the child and the date on which the agency expects to place the child for adoption.
  • The name and address of the partner’s employer (where the employee’s partner is no longer employed or is self employed their contact details must be given instead).

This documentation will normally be maintained confidentially on the individual’s personnel file within Human Resources.

6.   Fraudulent claims

The University can, where there is a suspicion that fraudulent information may have been provided or where the University has been informed by the HMRC that a fraudulent claim was made, investigate the matter further in accordance with the University’s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure without acting in a discriminatory manner in relation to any of the protected characteristics defined in the Equality Act 2010.

7.   Discussions regarding requests for SPL

If you are considering SPL you are encouraged to contact your Line Manager and/ or your HR Advisor to arrange an informal discussion as early as possible and in advance of submitting an SPL form or any formal period of leave notices. This will allow you more time to discuss your plans and to consider how the leave proposal could be agreed.  Your Line Manager should seek advice from their HR Advisor on these matters.

You may also wish to seek information on Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) and other pay-related matters from the Payroll Supervisor or Payroll Manager.

8.   Requesting (SPL)

SPL can only be taken in complete weeks but may begin on any day of the week. For example if a week of SPL began on a Tuesday it would finish on a Monday.  Where you return to work between periods of SPL, the next period of SPL can start on any day of the week.

You have the right to submit up to three notifications specifying leave periods you are intending to take.  Each notification may contain either (a) a single period of weeks of leave; or (b) two or more weeks of discontinuous leave, where you intend to return to work between periods of leave.

Mother/Adoptive Parent’s request

You must give your Line Manager and HR Advisor at least eight weeks’ notice setting out the requested pattern of leave and submit an SPL application form, including a declaration of entitlement to maternity/adoption leave before starting any SPL.

You can request up to three separate blocks of SPL, even if you aren’t sharing the leave with your partner.  If your partner is eligible for SPL, you can take leave at different times – or both at the same time, provided that all other requirements are met.

Partner’s request

If you are the partner, you will only be able to take SPL once the mother has either:

  • returned to work;
  • given her employer a curtailment notice to end her maternity/adoption leave; or
  • given her employer a curtailment notice to end her SMP/SAP
  • given a curtailment notice to the Job Centre Plus to end her maternity allowance.

You must then submit a Partner’s Notice of Entitlement and Intention to take SPL form to your Line Manager giving at least 8 weeks’ notice and send the original to your HR Advisor.

Continuous leave requests

As an employee you have the right to take a single unbroken or continuous period of leave, for example, six weeks in a row so long as it does not exceed the total number of weeks of SPL available to you and as specified in your SPL application form and the employer has been given at least eight weeks’ notice. 

You may submit up to three separate notifications for continuous periods of leave.

Discontinuous leave requests

A single leave notification may also contain a request for up to three periods of discontinuous leave, which means asking for a set number of weeks of leave over a period of time, with breaks between the leave where you return to work (for example, an arrangement where you will take six weeks of SPL and work every other week for a period of three months).

Where there is concern over accommodating your request (see section 10 below), your Line Manager will discuss whether a modified arrangement would be agreeable that meets both your needs and those of the University.  If your Line Manager is unable to agree your request straight away, there will be a two week discussion period.

The Line Manager will consider a discontinuous leave notification but has the right to refuse it. See section titled “Refusing a leave notification (discontinuous leave only)” within section 10 below for actions if your discontinuous request is refused.

9. Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)

If you are eligible, you may be entitled to take up to 37 weeks ShPP while taking SPL. The amount of weeks available will depend on the amount by which the mother/adopter reduces their maternity/adoption pay period or maternity allowance period. Any ShPP due will be paid at the statutory rate set by the UK Government for the relevant tax year.

ShPP may be payable during some or all of SPL, depending on the length and timing of the leave.

You must have provided the required notices, declarations and documents set out in sections 4 and 5 above. Where you have done this and are entitled to receive ShPP you must, at least eight weeks before receiving any ShPP, give your Line Manager a copy of the written notice advising of your entitlement to ShPP and forward the original to your HR Advisor. This is included as part of the notice of entitlement to take SPL within the application form for SPL. The required details, including a signed declaration form from the employees’ partner are included in the application forms.

10. Responding to a SPL notification

Once your Line Manager and your HR Advisor have received your SPL request and leave booking notice, it will be dealt with as soon as possible.  You will receive a written response no later than the 14th calendar day after the leave request was received.

All notices for continuous leave must be accepted and will be confirmed in writing.

A request for discontinuous leave may be granted in full or in part (for example, your Line Manager may propose a modified version of your request) or refused. 

Upon receiving a SPL Application Form with notice booking leave the Line Manager will usually arrange a meeting to discuss it. Where a notice is for a single period of continuous leave, or where a request for discontinuous leave can without further discussion be approved in the terms stated in the employee's notice booking leave, a meeting may not be necessary.

Time should be allowed for discussions to take place with other members of staff (where relevant and where this has been confirmed with you prior) with regard to consideration of and consultation on any potential impact of the request, including on the service provided, on students/customers etc. 

At the meeting you may be accompanied if you wish, by a work colleague or trade union representative.  If either is unavailable to attend this meeting then an alternative date will normally be arranged.  If you are unable to attend the original meeting and the rescheduled meeting, then the meeting may be held over the telephone.

Refusing a leave notification (discontinuous leave only)

All requests for discontinuous leave will be carefully considered, weighing up the potential benefits to the employee and to the University against any adverse impact to the business. Agreeing to one request will not set a precedent or create the right for another employee to be granted a similar pattern of SPL.

Where discontinuous leave cannot be immediately agreed, the line manager should always seek to arrange a meeting to discuss the request. Each request will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If a discontinuous leave pattern is refused, the line manager should ideally provide confirmation of the reason for the refusal in writing, within 14 calendar days of the notification being given and either propose alternative dates (wherever viable) for you to consider and outline the options available to you and set out below:

If the leave pattern is refused, you can do one of the following:

  1. Withdraw it within 15 calendar days of submitting it; or
  2. Take the leave in a single continuous block, starting on the start date given in your notice (for example, if you requested three separate periods of four weeks each, you will be entitled to one 12 week period of leave); or
  3. Choose a new start date (which must be at least eight weeks after your original period of leave notice was given), and tell us within five days of the end of the two week discussion period; or
  4. Withdraw your period of leave notice within two days of the end of the two week discussion period (in which case it will not be counted as one of your three notifications and you may submit a new one if you choose).

Failure to respond to a leave notification

We expect managers to respond to all SPL requests, either continuous or discontinuous.  However, if no response is received for a continuous leave request, you will automatically have the right to take the leave as outlined in your notification.

In accordance with ACAS guidance, if no response is made to a discontinuous request it will be regarded as having been refused and you can follow one of the four options listed above.
 
If a discontinuous leave request is refused you may choose to take the leave request as a single continuous block. You have until the 19th calendar day from the date the original notification was given to choose when you want the leave period to begin. The leave cannot start sooner than eight weeks from the date the original notification was submitted. If you do not choose a start date then the leave will begin on the first leave date requested in the original notification. 

11. Cancelling or changing the dates of your SPL

You can change or cancel an agreed and booked period of SPL by notifying your Line Manager, in writing, copied to your HR Advisor, at least eight weeks before the start date in the period of leave notice. Any new start date cannot be sooner than eight weeks from the date of the variation request.

Any variation or cancellation notification, including notice to return to work early, will usually count as one of your three periods of leave notices, unless:

  • the variation is as a result of your child being born earlier than the due date
  • the University is requesting the change and you are agreeable to this change

Any variation will be confirmed in writing by your Line Manager, copied to the HR Advisor.

12. Terms and conditions during SPL

During the period of SPL, your contract of employment continues in force and you are entitled to receive all your contractual benefits, except for salary.  Benefits in kind (such as FitnessPlus and staff discounts) will continue and you will continue to accrue annual leave during SPL in accordance with your leave entitlement. Leave should wherever possible be taken in the year that it is earned. Where an SPL period overlaps two leave years you should consider how your annual leave entitlement can be used to ensure that it is not untaken at the end of the leave year i.e 1 September – 31 August, as normally a maximum of up to 5 days carry-over of leave from one year to the next still applies.

Pension contributions will continue to be made during any period when you are receiving ShPP but not during any period of unpaid SPL. Employee contributions will be based on actual pay, while the University’s contributions will be based on the salary that you would have received had you not been taking SPL.

13. Contact during SPL

Before your SPL begins, your Line Manager will discuss the arrangements for you to keep in touch during your leave.  The University is entitled to maintain reasonable contact with you during your SPL. This may be to discuss your plans to return to work, to discuss any training or opportunities to ease your return to work or simply to update you on developments at work during your absence.

14. Shared Parental Leave in Touch days (SPLIT)

During SPL you can agree to work for the University (or attend training) for up to 20 days without bringing your period of SPL to an end or impacting on your right to claim ShPP for that week. These are known as "Shared Parental Leave in Touch" or "SPLIT" days. Any work carried out on a day or part of a day shall constitute a day's work for these purposes. Your partner is also entitled to up to 20 SPLIT days.

The University has no right to require you to carry out any work, and is under no obligation to offer you any work, during your SPL. Any work undertaken is a matter for agreement between you and the University. You will be paid at your substantive pay rate for any agreed SPLIT day (or part day) worked. If a SPLIT day occurs during a week when you are receiving ShPP, this will be effectively ‘topped up’ so that you receive full pay for the day in question. Any SPLIT days worked do not extend the period of SPL.  You should complete a SPLIT day form and seek sign off from your Line Manager before doing any work.

You, with the agreement of the University, may use SPLIT days to work part of a week during SPL. You and the University may use SPLIT days to effect a gradual return to work towards the end of a long period of SPL or to trial a possible flexible working pattern.

15. Returning to work after SPL 

You will have been formally advised in writing by the University of the end-date of any period of SPL. The University will expect you to return on the next working day after the end of your agreed SPL period, unless you have formally notified your Line Manager and HR Advisor otherwise.

If you are unable to attend work due to sickness or injury, the normal reporting arrangements for sickness absence as set out in the University's Sickness Absence Policy and any departmental guidance will apply. In any other case, late return without prior authorisation will be treated as unauthorised absence and managed in line with the University’s Disciplinary Policy and Procedure.

If you wish to return to work earlier than the expected return date, you must provide a written notice to vary the leave and must give your Line Manager (copied to your HR Advisor) at least eight weeks’ notice of your date of early return. This will count as one of your three notifications. If you have already used your three notifications to book and/or vary leave then the University does not have to accept your notice to return early but may do if it is considered to be reasonably practicable to do so.

On returning to work after SPL, you are entitled to return to the same job if your combined leave period (comprising of maternity/adoption leave and SPL) amounts to 26 weeks or less. The same job is the one you occupied immediately before commencing maternity/adoption leave and the most recent period of SPL, on the same terms and conditions of employment as if you had not been absent.  This is unaffected by unpaid parental leave of up to four weeks being taken as well.

If your maternity/adoption leave and SPL amounts to 26 weeks or more in total, you are normally entitled to return to the same job you held before commencing the last period of leave or, if this is not reasonably practicable, to another job which is both suitable and appropriate and on terms and conditions no less favourable. 

If you also take a period of unpaid parental leave of 4 weeks or less this will have no effect on you right to return and you will still be entitled to return to the same job as you occupied before taking the last period of leave if the aggregate weeks of maternity/paternity/adoption and SPL do not exceed 26 weeks.

If a parent takes a period of 5 weeks of unpaid parental leave, even if the total aggregate weeks of maternity/paternity/adoption and SPL do not exceed 26 weeks, you will be entitled to return to the same job you held before commencing the last period of leave or, if this is not reasonably practicable, to another job which is suitable and appropriate and on terms and conditions no less favourable.  

16. Special Circumstances, queries and further information

In certain situations an employee’s rights and requirements regarding SPL and ShPP may change. In these circumstances the University will abide by any statutory obligations.

The University recognises that, from time to time, employees or their managers may have questions or concerns relating to their shared parental rights. It is the University's policy to encourage open discussion with employees to ensure that questions and problems can be resolved as quickly as possible.

Employees and their line managers should clarify the relevant procedures with their HR Advisor to ensure that they are followed.

The legislation relating to this document is as follows:

  • The Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014
  • The Shared Parental Pay (General) Regulations 2014
  • The Maternity and Adoption Leave (Curtailment of Statutory Rights to Leave) Regulations 2014
  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • Child and Families Act 2014
  • Equality Act 2010