Many parents are now asking themselves ‘could Shared Parental Leave be useful for me?’
There are many examples of ways in which Shared Parental Leave can be used to benefit new mums, dads and partners. This is because the new regime offers much more flexibility than the old forms of maternity and paternity leave with 50 weeks of entitlement which can be shared between parents to look after their child. 39 weeks of the entitlement is paid, at a statutory rate of £139.58 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.
Never before could parents take their leave simultaneously or sequentially in this way. With Shared Parental Leave, both parents could take leave from their separate jobs together and enjoy the precious first few weeks and months with their new born. Parents could enjoy up to 25 weeks off work together caring for their new arrival, if they can afford to do so financially.
Now mothers can return to work within the first 20 weeks without losing the right to the rest of their leave. This will be of particular use to couples where the mother is the main bread-winner. It will allow mums to return to work while the dads and partners take up the bulk of the Shared Parental Leave to care for the child at home if that is the best in financial terms.
This is not all! Perhaps the best feature of Shared Parental Leave is the flexibility it offers to parents. As Shared Parental Leave can be taken up in three blocks of discontinuous leave it gives families greater scope for the parents both to dip in and out of work, without having to take an extended period of annual leave.
For many working families, this will be a massive positive as we have seen too many women having their career prospects impacted unfairly by taking up maternity leave to care for their children.
The advantage of having a possible three blocks of discontinuous leave to take up is that it will allow parents to juggle their family and work life a lot better. For example, if the mother has an important project to manage she could return to work to complete it, while her partner takes care of the child. They could then reverse roles for a period of a few weeks, before tagging the dad in once again to become the primary carer for the baby at home.
This is just one example of how taking periods of discontinuous leave under the Shared Parental Leave can help both parents to keep their careers on track. To find out more, see our blog entitled Shared Parental Leave: The Financial Hurdle.
Slater and Gordon Employment Lawyers are experts in dealing with all types of maternity and paternity related cases.