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As of 5th April 2015, new rules have been introduced for Shared Parental Leave (SPL), which allows both parents of a child to share up to 50 weeks of leave after they have a baby.

Experts have raised concerns that many small businesses in the UK are not prepared for the Scandinavian-style changes, which are complex. Now, if both parents are employed they will be able to take almost one year off after the birth or adoption of their baby.

The first two weeks are to be taken by the mother, as they are compulsory maternity leave. Paternity leave of two weeks will still be available to the father. However, the remaining 50 weeks could either be shared between the parents, or it could be transferred to the father, allowing the mother to return to work.

The changes were announced 18 months earlier by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and proved to be popular with advocates of women in the workplace and family groups.

However, many employers are still trying to get to grips with the new legislation. Specialists at employment law firm Irwin Mitchell state that many small businesses will be unprepared for the working pattern changes as a result of the new rules, while others may face increased discrimination allegations if they don’t allow fathers to take the leave requested. Eight weeks’ notice of intended leave has to be given to the employer, although the business may refuse to allow discontinuous leave.

John Allen of the Federation of Small Businesses says that the new legislation will help more women return to work when they have had a child. However, he does add that the rules are complex and implementation will be challenging.

What is Shared Parental Leave?

SPL is an option for couples whose baby was due on or after 5th April 2015, or a child who was adopted on or after that date. Once a mother has ended her maternity leave, which can be any time after the initial two weeks that are compulsory, the SPL can commence. The SPL must be taken during the first year of a baby’s life, or within the first year of a child being adopted.

There are eligibility criteria that have to be fulfilled by both parents, which includes them sharing the responsibility of caring for a child. For more information about the changes, call us here at The Accountancy Partnership for advice.

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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