Written by Paul Chappell
Published on August 9, 2019
hmrc maternity consultation

There you are stood at the bus stop. For what seems like a lifetime there are no bus’s insight, then out of the mist two or three come along at the same time. The same seems to be for Government consultations! You don’t see one for months, then they are coming out of the Governments ears!

The latest is the Good Work Family Support Consultation.

The consultation is a multi-faceted document covering more than one subject if different closing dates.

I therefore intend to break the document down in to three separate blogs, covering the different elements of the consultation.

The first is on parental leave and pay.

This part of the consultation runs to 17 pages so summing up in a single blog is quite a challenge. Nevertheless the consultation is concentrating on four areas:

  • Paternity Leave and Pay for eligible fathers and partners
  • Shared Parental Leave and Pay for couples
  • Maternity Leave and Pay/Allowance for pregnant women and new mothers
  • Parental Leave for parents of older children

Parental Pay and Leave

Currently around 90% of fathers take time off following the birth of their child. How many of these use Paternity Leave and Pay, around 75% of the 90%. The consultation is looking at, and seeking input from interested parties, on recommendations made by the Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC).

Those recommendations are that;

1. Statutory Paternity Pay should be capped at 90% of salary with up to 12 weeks of parental leave and pay for fathers. The first 4 weeks should paid at 90% of the fathers/partners salary.

2. A new entitlement of 12 weeks paternal leave and pay for fathers in addition to the current 2 weeks. The first 4 weeks should be paid at 90% of the fathers’ salary.

Of course there is a significant cost to these proposals the consultation will seek representations on how those costs should be split between Government, employer and employees.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

Statutory Shared Parental Pay is not enhanced but worth up to £148.68 per week. Mothers can transfer up to 37 weeks of their Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) into the Shared Parental Leave scheme but they cannot transfer their entitlement to 6 weeks enhanced pay.

As fathers are only able to access additional weeks of leave and pay through the scheme if the mother is prepared to give sum up, the consultation is to look at whether each parent should be given their own allowance of leave and pay.

Maternity Pay and Leave

Women currently have access to 52 weeks maternity Leave and 39 weeks SMP.

The consultation is looking at the length of maternity leave and the level and extent of enhancements. It is expected that consideration will be given to SMP’s relationship with Shared Parental Leave

Parental Leave for Parents of Older Children

Parents are currently entitled to 18 weeks’ unpaid leave to care for a child up to and including the child’s 18th birthday. As the entitlement is per parent not child there is a certain amount of flexibility already built into the scheme.

The consultation is seeking responses on the current system, the most successful aspects, how the Government could incentivise the take up of the scheme and representations on further reforms.

There is much to consider, no doubt the main issues for the consultation will be costs, who picks up the bill for the proposed reforms? The Government and employers already pick up the bill for Statutory payments, how can reforms be funded? Much to ponder.

For further details please contact Paul Chappell, Head of Legislation and Compliance at Dataplan Payroll Ltd on 03331 123456