Written by Carly Boyd
Published on December 9, 2014

Currently, when a woman has a baby she is entitled to up to 52 weeks leave, 39 of which are paid and the father can only take 2 weeks. Is this fair?

Okay, so the father can get Additional Statutory Paternity Pay and Leave but only if the mother goes back to work early. The same applies to Adoption Pay and Leave where only one parent can take up to 52 weeks and the other parent has to apply for Paternity Leave instead.

In recent years we have seen a shift in the way people think about parenting, particularly when parents separate and custody of the child comes into question. It used to be that the mother would get primary custody of the child and the father would get visitation or access, if they were lucky they would have the child live with them for the weekends. Now opinions have changed and general consensus is that both parents are equal partners in raising a child, so it is time for the Statutory Pay rules to change.

If you have a child born on or after 5th April 2015, or you adopt a child on or after 5th April 2015 you may be entitled to leave and pay under the new Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) rules. This means that if both parents are entitled to ShPP they can share the 52 weeks between them in any way they see fit so long as a mother has at least 2 weeks off after the birth (4 if she works in a factory).

There are rules that accompany the new ShPP. To be eligible for ShPP the parents must qualify for SMP, SPP or SAP. If only one parent qualifies then the leave cannot be shared between both parents.

The father or joint adopter can only take his leave if the mother or adopter has gone back to work unless binding notice is given that the mother will return to work on a certain date. This is to ensure that the Statutory Leave period of 52 weeks is not exceeded by a combination of both parents’ leave. This binding notice makes it possible for both parents to be on leave at the same time.

ShPP can be taken in up to 3 blocks of leave instead of taking it all at once. The employer must be given at least 8 weeks’ notice of all leave taken including the duration of that leave. If the leave is to be taken in blocks, the leave must be agreed between the employee and the employer.

A woman or adopter can go from SMP or SAP to ShPP, thus still being entitled to the 6 weeks at 90% of the average weekly wage (if this is higher than the Statutory Pay, currently £138.18) before they go on to the lower rate.

If ShPP is to be taken, the employer must acquire evidence of the partner’s name, address and National Insurance number and that they’re sharing childcare responsibility with their partner. Maternity leave start and end dates, the total amount of SPL and ShPP available and how much they and their partner intend to take, and evidence that they each qualify for ShPP should also be given.

Working parents’ face many difficulties, but now it seems like joint parenting is finally becoming a little bit easier thanks to the new ShPP law. To learn more about ShPP click here.