Shared Parental Leave comes in on 5th April 2015 and will enable eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed for adoption. Where eligible parents are entitled to take Shared Parental Leave, an employer cannot refuse a request for a continuous block of leave. Parents can also take leave at the same time as each other provided that the total period of leave taken by both parents does not exceed 50 weeks.
Within the Shared Parental Leave regulations, there is also provision to allow parents to request block of “discontinuous leave”. This means that you don’t have to take the leave all at once and allows flexibility as to how the leave is shared between the parents. Using discontinuous leave, a parent took take a block of leave, return to work for a period allowing the other parent to take the leave, and then go back on leave.
This enables parents to combine work with leave in the first year of your child’s life and return to work between periods of leave if you wish. You must inform your employer at least 8 weeks before you plan to take shared parental leave and/or pay. You are also entitled to ask your employer a further two times to take more leave or to change the pattern of shared parental leave you wish to take, again with 8 weeks’ notice.
The advantages of taking discontinuous leave mean that you can take time off for essential dates, to fit around childcare or to simply be there for your child and maintain your own wellbeing. The leave must be taken in one week blocks, not a day here and a day there.
You have the legal right to choose to take Shared Parental Leave, to determine when you take it and to not suffer Maternity or Paternity Discrimination for using or seeking to use Shared Parental Leave.
Although an employer can refuse to agree to a discontinuous leave request, the entitlement remains and the number of weeks requested will default to a single block of continuous leave if an alternative arrangement cannot be agreed within two weeks of the request being made. An employer cannot refuse a request for continuous leave.
Whilst there is no obligation on an employer to give reasons for a refusal to allow discontinuous leave, an employer should not discriminate when allowing some requests whilst not allowing others.
Your employer is not allowed to put any pressure on you to accept a proposed leave period. It is up to you when you take your Shared Parental Leave.
If you are having any issues with Shared Parental Leave and need expert legal advice the team of Employment Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers are on hand to help. Contact us on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online and we will call you back.
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