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Confused about maternity and shared parental leave

(21 Posts)
dodi1978 Thu 14-Jul-16 07:53:11

Can someone from HR help me disentangle this?

I am due with DS2 early October and going on mat leave just a few days before my due date (but have taken two weeks of annual leave before mat leave).

My company will pay some enhanced pay: 8 weeks full pay (which includes the SMP element)
16 weeks half pay + SMP
And then just SMP

My current plans will see me take mat leave for about 30 weeks altogether, followed by about 8 weeks annual leave that I'll have accrued at that time.

My husband would like to take some shared parental leave, as his company gives full pay for a few weeks. However, there seems to be a policy that full pay is only paid if the shared leave is taken in the first ten weeks after childbirth.

Now the quiz question: If we go on shared parental leave that early on, will this mean that I loose entitlement to my enhanced pay? Our HR policies are not clear on that at all. I have sent an e-mail to ask, but would love to hear what you think! We obviously can't do the shared leave thing if that's the case, for financial reasons!

maggiethemagpie Thu 14-Jul-16 20:16:19

No, you should still get the 90% pay for the first six weeks.

LurkingQuietly Thu 14-Jul-16 20:22:27

Yes, only one of you can be on shared leave at a time, so your DH being on leave will end your leave and you can't then restart it. Sorry.

LotsOfDots Thu 14-Jul-16 20:32:28

A colleague of mine was able to take leave at the same time as his wife, it just can't add up to more than 12 months altogether, as far as I know.

dementedpixie Thu 14-Jul-16 20:36:15

I think you have to cut some of your maternity leave short to allow him to take some at the same time (so you would shorten yours to give to him)

dodi1978 Thu 14-Jul-16 21:18:08

That's really annoying. As I said, I don't mind what sort of leave I am on as long as I get the enhanced pay - but that looks unlikely. I am still waiting for a response from HR on this.

If his company gave my DH enhanced pay if he took is shared leave later on in the year that would be great, as I then wouldn't lose mine. But if I do lose my enhanced pay, it is just not possible - we need the money.

dementedpixie Thu 14-Jul-16 21:21:00

You can take maternity leave and he can take paternity leave without affecting anything. Is his good deal linked to shared leave/pay or not?

JassyRadlett Thu 14-Jul-16 21:22:49

Yes, only one of you can be on shared leave at a time, so your DH being on leave will end your leave and you can't then restart it. Sorry

This was the case under the original 2011 scheme but it's changed now and parents can take their leave at the same time, as well as in blocks (eg time off / work / more time off).

dodi1978 Thu 14-Jul-16 21:40:12

dementedpixie -
My DH can first get 2 weeks paternity leave on full pay, which he will definitely do. We know we can take this in parallel. The deal then is that he can take shared leave on full pay for quite a few weeks (can't remember how many), but the full pay deal only applies if he takes these weeks early on. So, yes, the full pay deal is linked to taking shared leave.

Jassy -
the question is... can one of us (well, me, obviously!) be on maternity leave and one of us take shared leave at the same time? Again, it's a money thing that drives these thoughts... we don't really care what it is called!

Thanks for your help, it's doing our head in!

JassyRadlett Thu 14-Jul-16 21:48:21

Ah! Then yes it will depend on your organisation's policies and I suspect they haven't thought about it yet.

But gov.uk says:

You can start SPL or ShPP while your partner is still on maternity or adoption leave and pay as long as they’ve given binding notice to end it.

A mother can’t return to work before the end of the compulsory 2 weeks of maternity leave following the birth (4 weeks if she works in a factory). If you’re adopting the person claiming adoption pay must take at least 2 weeks of adoption leave.

Example
A mother and her partner are both eligible for SPL.

The mother goes on maternity leave 2 weeks before her baby is born. She gives notice to her employer that she’ll take 16 weeks of maternity leave.

Since the mother has given binding notice, her partner can start SPL as soon as the baby has been born (as long as her partner has given at least 8 weeks’ notice to their employer).

Cottagecosy Thu 14-Jul-16 21:54:47

I hope I can help a little here as I am currently in a battle with my employer over this and have done a lot of reading.

In order to start SPL you have to end ML. So you could take say 3 months ML and then switch to SPL at which point you and your partner can share any remaining leave allowance between you, however you want. It can be taken consecutively- I.e you both being off together. It has to be taken in blocks of 7 weeks or more. In theory you could alternate weeks for the rest of your entitlement but your employer has some ability to decline a proposed arrangement like this if it wouldn't work for them. I believe you can't return to ML after switching to SPL (happy to be corrected if wrong on this though!).

Re pay (the contentious bit for me!) you are only legally entitled to SPL pay. Any enhancements paid by your employer for ML do not have to be paid to you when you take SPL. That is the employers decision. Many (including my NHS employer) are refusing to enhance SPL (don't get me started on this issue!). Those that are, legally should be paying enhancements to men and women (or they are open to gender discrimination claims). Many are not doing this (opening themselves up to law suits) while others are not enhancing it full stop, presumably to avoid them having to pay it to men.

When you look into how it is being applied it doesn't seem like such a step forwards for gender equality in my opinion. I just hope employers take the step of accepting male and female employees as equal parents and offering enhancements for those on SPL as they would maternity.

Sorry for the long post- this issue is taking up a lot of my brain power right now. Hope my ramblings are of some help!

Cottagecosy Thu 14-Jul-16 22:04:55

Since the mother has given binding notice, her partner can start SPL as soon as the baby has been born (as long as her partner has given at least 8 weeks’ notice to their employer).

Jassy are you sure about this? I understood it to mean that once the mother has given notice, the father can put in the SPL request but that you can't have the mother on ML at the same time the partner is on SPL? Otherwise there would be no need for the mother to take SPL if you see what I mean, she would just remain on ML and 'donate' her final weeks/ months to her partner.

If I am wrong on this that would make a massive difference for me! I.e currently if my partner takes 6 weeks at the beginning with me as SPL I was informed I would have to switch to SPL too and loose enhancements. That would be very different financially to me staying on ML but ending this 6 weeks early?

This really is a massive minefield though!

dodi1978 Thu 14-Jul-16 22:14:10

Cottagecosy, thanks for your post. Looks like you are in exactly the same position as me!

DH and I were so excited when we so that his company is offering enhanced pay for SPL, but if it means I have to go on SPL too and lose my enhanced maternity pay, we simply can't do it. It negates the whole purpose of SPL.

I haven't had an answer from HR yet (maybe they are banging their heads together in desparation now after getting my e-mail yesterday....), so there is still hope... but I guess it's unlikely.

I'll definitely post again once I've got an answer!

dodi1978 Thu 14-Jul-16 22:25:18

Jassy - thanks for the quote from gov.uk. I have just read it on the website:

www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay/when-you-can-start

From this, it does indeed look as if maternity leave and SPH can be taken in parallel, as long as the mother gives binding notice from the start.

Now, this is a bit of a problem for us in the sense that we may not know until much later next spring whether we have got a nursery place for the summer...

But, at least this is something to quote from for HR! Cottagecosy, this may help you as well!

Cottagecosy Thu 14-Jul-16 22:41:08

I'm definitely going to look into that a bit more in that case. Sorry it won't help you though. It does seem so unfair doesn't it!

I'm going to get some advice from Acas on my situation so will pass on any useful info once I have spoken to them.

dodi1978 Thu 14-Jul-16 22:44:27

I might call MaternityAction tomorrow to see what they say....will update you!

dodi1978 Thu 14-Jul-16 22:58:36

Ahhhh! My brain has been ringing.... and I think I have found a solution.

I actually think the law is fairly clear - maternity leave and shared parental leave can be taken in parallel, by everything I have read no, as long as the mother declares from the start when she intends to end her mat leave. Presumably, this is to make sure that the couple combined won't go over the maximum number of weeks allowed.

What I might do now is to simply tell them I take the maximum possible mat leave minus my partners' weeks, and then curtail it at a later stage (should be possible as long as I give eight weeks notice of such curtailment, right?)

JassyRadlett Fri 15-Jul-16 07:58:05

Cottage, it's a direct c&p from gov.uk, really hope it's helpful to your situation!

So dispiriting that so many employers are looking at this as a way to reduce benefits instead of having to share them more widely.

Dodi, don't forget that you each get an entitlement to 4 weeks unpaid parental leave a year until the child turns 5, plus don't forget the holiday/bank holiday you'll accrue on maternity when it comes to covering the time until nursery. Good luck!

dodi1978 Tue 26-Jul-16 21:17:41

UPDATE!

We've done it - it's all arranged!

I am updating as this may be of interest to some of you.

Maternity leave and shared parental leave can be taken in parallel. This is important as some women obviously get enhanced maternity pay and, if they were to go on shared parental leave, they might loose that. This was the situation we found ourselves in.

If you are looking into this, this is the crucial sentence that you need to point your employer toward:

"You can start SPL or ShPP while your partner is still on maternity or adoption leave and pay as long as they’ve given binding notice to end it."

www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay/when-you-can-start

In other words: the mother needs to give notice to curtail her maternity leave to allow her partner to share the rest of her weeks. We have now decided to curtail my maternity leave to 39 weeks (I didn't want to take more anyway). This means that my husband can take 13 weeks.

The same applies, pretty much, to pay, but the baseline number here is 39 weeks. So if your partner were to take 13 weeks of ShPP, you would only get 26 weeks of pay.

In our case, we are very lucky as my husband's company does not claim the statutory element of ShPP from the state - they simply pay my husband full salary out of their own pocket. It has been confirmed today that this means that I am still eligible for the full 39 weeks of SMP.

Documents and guidance we found helpful was the gov.uk site above and also all the resources from ACAS.

www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4911

My work admitted that they had never arranged this from a woman's perspective. Thus, they were pretty clueless. In order to curtail my maternity leave, I actually used one of the ACAS forms because they didn't have a form that fitted the purpose.

I hope this can help someone else. My husband and I will now be off together for three months, taking us all through Christmas!

Cottagecosy Tue 26-Jul-16 22:01:47

Thank you so much for coming back and updating us dodi, glad to hear you have it arranged. I will be forwarding that link to my employer so really appreciate you sharing! What would we do without forums like this to work out the jargon?!

Whitef85 Thu 05-Jan-17 16:01:39

Hi Dodi1978,

I have just found this thread, hopefully you are still active. My partner and I are hoping to share some leave so that he can take 7 weeks off whilst I am on maternity leave and receiving enhanced pay. His employer also supports enhanced pay so during His time he will recieve full pay (occupational), no need for maternityballowance. From what I have read I think I need to fill out the normal maternity application with my original end date (what it would be if hubby wasn't sharing) and then also fill out a curtailment form which will then shorten my overall allowance from 52 weeks to say 45? Allowing for hubby to take 7 weeks whilst I am off work, is this what you did?

I presume that the 7 weeks Maternity allowance pay will then be taken off at the end of my allowance.

Both HR departments have not dealt with this before.

Any help be much appreciated.

Hope you are enjoying your leave and new baby x

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