The Ins and Outs of Shared Parental Leave for Small Businesses

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As a modern and progressive small business owner, you probably want to do everything you can to support working parents. That’s where shared parental leave comes in – giving employees more flexibility when a new child arrives.


Shared parental leave (SPL) allows parents to split up the traditional maternity/paternity leave and pay in a way that suits their family best. That means alongside maternity leave, eligible parents can access up to 50 weeks of shared leave and 37 weeks of shared pay.


But implementing SPL can seem daunting for small businesses. Let’s break it down:


Who Is Eligible?

Both parents must share responsibility for the child at birth. One must be entitled to maternity/paternity leave, while the other must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the due date.


Parents can share SPL if they’re:

  • The child’s mother/father
  • The spouse/civil partner of the mother
  • The mother’s partner (if not an employee)


How It Works  

If the parents meet the criteria, they can opt to convert a portion of the maternity/paternity leave and pay into SPL and statutory shared parental pay (ShPP).


SPL must be taken in weekly blocks, with a minimum period of one week. Parents can alternate the leave, stagger blocks, or take it all in one go.  They can also be off work at the same time to spend this time together.


ShPP is paid at £172.48 per week or 90% of average weekly earnings. It’s paid (and claimed back from HMRC) by employers in the same way as maternity and paternity pay.


Requesting SPL

Your employee should let you know their SPL plans at least 8 weeks before they intend to start it. You can request a non-binding ‘intention to take’ notice first.


When they officially request it, their booking notice must include start/end dates and the pay/leave they intend to take. You have 14 days to consider the request and confirm the dates in writing.


As the employer, you have every right to ask for evidence of the employee’s entitlement to SPL, such as the child’s birth certificate.


The Benefits for Small Businesses  

While SPL involves some logistical planning, it can pay dividends for employee retention and workplace culture. It shows you’re a family-friendly employer that values work-life balance.


Shared parental leave can increase motivation and productivity by allowing new parents to share responsibilities more equally. It reduces discrimination to let both parents stay closely involved.


You don’t have to offer SPL, but being an early adopter for a progressive policy like this can attract and retain top talent.


There’s a lot for small businesses to wrap their heads around, but it’s an increasingly important issue. With some flexibility and open communication with employees, shared parental leave can be a win-win for working parents.


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