Guidance

Parental Leave policy and procedures

Medicines and Healthcare product Regulatory Agency official Parental Leave policy and procedures.

Maternity Leave policy and procedure

February 2017

Policy review date: 28/02/2020

Introduction

The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (the Agency) aims to provide full support to pregnant employees at this important time. The following paragraphs explain the Agency’s arrangements for maternity leave and pay as well as outlining the current statutory rights for you. Where you are eligible under both the statutory and the Agency schemes, you may choose the option which is more beneficial to you. However, if you have entitlement to the Agency provisions as well as statutory rights, you can only exercise one option, not both.

This policy should be read in line with the Agency’s Shared Parental Leave (SPL) policy if you wish to share your parental leave. Where a woman and her partner meet the qualifying conditions for SPL, the woman can end her maternity leave and pay, or commit to ending it at a future date and share the untaken balance of maternity leave and pay as SPL and pay. Please refer to the SPL policy for further information.

Scope

This policy applies to all pregnant agency employees.

This policy does not apply to contractors or agency workers who should refer to the maternity leave entitlements set out by their employer. Staff on secondment from other organisations will need to refer to their own maternity leave and pay arrangements.

Notifying the agency

The Agency has a duty to provide details of maternity leave entitlement to you as soon as you know you are pregnant. Therefore, at least 15 weeks before your expected week of childbirth (EWC), you should notify your line manager and HR in writing of the following:

  • the expected date of childbirth

  • the intended date of leaving work

  • whether or not you intend to return to work

  • confirm in due course, the actual date of childbirth and, if you intend to return to work before the date when your maternity leave will end, give as much notice as possible, and not less than 28 days. If you subsequently change your mind, you must give your manager at least 28 days’ notice of this change.

Health and safety whilst pregnant

The agency has a duty to take care of the health and safety of all employees. They are also required to carry out a risk assessment (Appendix A) to assess the workplace risks to women who are pregnant, have recently given birth or are breastfeeding. This is especially important where the work is of a kind that could involve a risk of harm or danger to your health and safety or the health and safety of your baby. If applicable, the agency will provide you with information as to any risks identified in the risk assessment. If the risk assessment reveals that you would be exposed to health hazards in carrying out your normal job duties, the agency will take such steps as are reasonably necessary to avoid those risks, such as altering your working conditions. In exceptional circumstances some cases, this may mean offering you suitable alternative work (if available) on terms and conditions that are not substantially less favourable.

If all other options have been exhausted and in exceptional circumstances, if it is not possible for the agency to alter your conditions to remove the risks to your health and there is no suitable alternative work available to offer you on a temporary basis, the agency may suspend you from work on maternity grounds until such time as there are no longer any risks to your health. This may be for the remainder of your pregnancy until the commencement of your maternity leave. If you are suspended in these circumstances, your employment will continue during the period of the suspension and it does not in any way affect your statutory or contractual employment and maternity rights. You will continue to be entitled to your normal salary and contractual benefits during the period of your suspension, unless you have unreasonably refused an offer of suitable alternative employment.

Part one – Contractual Entitlement

You will be allowed 26 weeks maternity leave on full pay and a subsequent 13 weeks paid at Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) (See Statutory Maternity Pay below for further information) for the period of continuous absence before and after childbirth, provided you:

  • State that you intend to return to work in the Agency after your maternity leave, and agree to repay any contractual payment made during that period if you fail to the agency for at least 1 month. You should complete the application form in Appendix B. If you fail to do so, paid maternity leave will not be allowed; and

  • You are in paid service at the time your maternity leave begins and have completed at least 1 years’ service within the Civil Service which needs to be continuous (staff in receipt of sick pay at pension rate are not regarded as being in paid service).

If ineligible for paid maternity leave, you will still have a statutory right to 52 weeks unpaid leave, and may qualify for SMP or maternity allowance. See also the Special Leave guidance.

The period of paid maternity leave will not be regarded as sick leave. The payments received will count for pension purposes in the same way as normal salary.

  1. Repayment of paid maternity leave

The terms of the relevant undertaking (see Appendix B) require you to return to work within 52 weeks from the start of your maternity leave period or at the end of an agreed career break for at least 1 month. Failing to return for the minimum period will mean that the salary paid must be refunded to the Agency. Exceptionally, a refund may be deferred if your return to work is delayed by certified sickness or by authorised special leave without pay, provided you eventually resume duty and complete the equivalent of a calendar month’s paid service.

Part two – Statutory Entitlement

1. Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

Pregnant women employees are entitled to:

  • 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave (OML), followed by a further

  • 26 weeks additional maternity leave (AML) regardless of how long they have worked in the Civil Service.

The first 39 weeks is normally paid leave, either in the form of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), subject to length of service, or Maternity Allowance which is paid by Department of Work and Pensions offices.

2. SMP Entitlement

You will be entitled to SMP if you:-

  • Have been continuously employed in the Civil Service for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (the qualifying week) and have been employed at least one day into the qualifying week; and

  • Have average gross earnings of not less than the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions applicable in the qualifying week (above average earnings are calculated by adding your gross earnings for the last 8 weeks prior to the qualifying week, multiplying by 6 and dividing by 52); and

  • Are still pregnant at the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth or have given birth by that time; and

  • Have stopped work to have a baby (whether or not you intend to return to work after childbirth); and

  • Inform the Agency in writing (see Appendix B) before your absence begins; and

  • Submit a maternity certificate (form MAT B1) or other statement from a medical practitioner or certified midwife confirming the expected week of childbirth.

SMP is payable for a maximum of 39 weeks. This pay period can start at any time from the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth up to the expected week of childbirth without any loss of SMP. Within this limit, you may choose when your maternity pay period begins.

SMP is not payable if the pregnancy ends other than by a live birth before the 25th week of pregnancy. In these circumstances SSP should be considered. In the event of a still birth after the 24th week of pregnancy you will be entitled to the same amount of

maternity leave and pay as if the baby was born alive. Please contact your HR Advisor for further information.

The agency recognises that this will be a difficult and traumatic time and would encourage the use of the confidential assistance programme, Workplace Wellness. Their number is 0800 111 6387

If you are expecting more than one baby during a pregnancy, you are only entitled to one payment of SMP.

3. Amount of SMP payable

SMP is payable for complete weeks only, starting at midnight between a Saturday and Sunday, for a maximum of 39 weeks. It is paid on your normal pay-day and subject to PAYE income tax and National Insurance contributions.

SMP is paid at the rate of 90% of earnings for the first six weeks and, for the remaining 33 weeks, the lesser of (a) the standard flat rate (refer to government website for current figures https://www.gov.uk/maternity-pay-leave/pay) or (b) 90% of normal weekly earnings

4. Statutory maternity leave and maternity allowance

Women not entitled to SMP may be entitled to Maternity Allowance (MA) from the Department of Work and Pensions. The claim for MA should be made on form MA1 (available from any Jobcentre Plus office) and submitted with evidence of pregnancy (MAT B1) on or after the 14th week before the expected week of childbirth.

A deduction equivalent to the standard rate of MA will be made automatically from salary if it appears that entitlement to MA exists. If MA is not payable then you should send the notification form to HR so that payment of salary can be corrected. If you do not claim the full benefit to which you are entitled, the full deduction will nevertheless be made unless HR is satisfied with the explanation given. You may also be entitled to other statutory benefits e.g. Incapacity Benefit or Working Families Tax Credit and should contact Jobcentre Plus for details of entitlement and claims. If SMP is not payable HR will notify you, provide you with form SMP1 and return your maternity certificate (form MAT B1). If you wish to claim Maternity Allowance, you should take both forms to your local Jobcentre Plus office.

If you disagree with the decision not to pay SMP, you can ask HR to provide a written statement giving reasons. If you still disagree, you can ask the Adjudication Officer at any Jobcentre Plus office to adjudicate.

5. Additional maternity leave

You will be entitled to take 26 weeks additional maternity leave immediately after ordinary maternity leave (OML). The first 13 weeks of additional maternity leave will be paid at SMP rates and the remaining 13 weeks will be unpaid.

Part three: All employees

1. Starting maternity leave

If you are entitled to paid maternity leave or statutory maternity pay, you may begin your leave at any time from a date which is after the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth. Unpaid maternity leave can, however, start up to 14 weeks before the expected date of childbirth. If it is considered advisable for you to begin leave shortly before your intended date (e.g. on safety grounds) you will be given special leave with pay for the additional absence if it does not qualify as paid sick leave.

If childbirth occurs prior to the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth, maternity leave will commence from the day after childbirth (childbirth means the birth of a live child or a still birth after 24 weeks of pregnancy). If you have notified your intention to start maternity leave later than the 4th week before the expected week of childbirth and have been continuously on pregnancy related sick leave, the start of the maternity leave will be the start of the continuous absence or the 4th week date, whichever is later.

Once you have stated when you would wish your maternity leave to start this date would not normally be changed unless you inform the Agency of the new date and give at least 28 days’ notice of this. In response to receiving the application form, HR will write to you confirming the date your maternity leave (paid and unpaid) is due to end. You will be expected to return to work on that date (see Returning to Work, below).

2. Unpaid maternity leave

During or following pregnancy you will be allowed to take 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave (OML) followed by 26 weeks additional maternity leave (AML). This does not affect your right to Shared Parental Leave and Parental Leave (see also Special Leave and Shared Parental Leave guidance).

3. Returning to work

Apart from during the two weeks following the birth of the baby, if you are absent from work because of pregnancy or childbirth and entitled to paid maternity leave, you may return to work (provided you have given prior written notice of your intention to return) at any time up to 52 weeks from the start of her maternity period. You will have been notified by HR of the date when your maternity leave (paid and unpaid) is due to end. Should you wish to return before this date, you should give at least 28 days written notice of the day on which you propose to return. You must give this notice by completing a “Notice of Intention to Return to Work following Maternity Leave”; (see Appendix C). The notice should be a meaningful declaration of intent, i.e. your medical condition at that time is such that a return to work is a realistic expectation.

Where the maternity leave period is due to end, or you provide at least 28 days notification of your intention to return to work on an earlier date, certificated sick absence may be allowed from this date, in accordance with agency managing sickness absence policy. In

these circumstances, you will not be allowed to bring forward the date of intended return in order to qualify for paid sick absence from an earlier date. If you exercise your right to return to work after ordinary maternity leave (i.e. the first 26 weeks of maternity leave) you are entitled to return to the same job on the same terms and conditions of employment as if you had not been on maternity leave, unless a redundancy situation has arisen. In these circumstances you would be offered a suitable alternative vacancy.

After additional maternity leave (i.e. the period up to 52 weeks) you are entitled to return to work to the same job on the same terms and conditions as if you had not been on maternity leave, unless there is some reason why it is not reasonably practicable for you to do so. In this case you will normally be employed in the same general location but not necessarily in the same post as before. In any event, you will be treated for posting and transfer purposes no less favourably than if you had not been on maternity leave.

If you have not informed the Agency previously and decide not to return to work following your maternity leave, the usual leaver process should be followed and you should confirm your resignation in writing to your line manager. You will need to provide the required notice as set out in your contract.

4. Contractual benefits

During the period of maternity leave the contract of employment continues and you are entitled to all the benefits (except remuneration in the case of unpaid leave) which would have accrued had you been at work. You will continue to accrue annual leave entitlement during your maternity leave and will also accrue leave for any public or bank holidays and privilege days that occur during that period.

You may take annual leave before or after, but not during, your maternity absence (whether paid or unpaid).

If you have opted into a salary sacrifice to purchase vouchers prior to commencing your maternity leave, this will be suspended if you are on SMP or Nil pay.

5. Ante-natal care

If, on medical advice, you make an appointment to receive ante-natal care, you will be given reasonable time off to keep the appointment. Ante-natal care normally covers appointments to see doctors, midwives or health visitors responsible for that care. You may also be allowed time off with pay to attend relaxation or parent craft classes, providing you supply evidence of enrolment and details of future appointments. You should discuss any appointments with your line manager to ensure there is minimal disruption to your work. You may be required to work flexibility to accommodate any appointments and this may include working from home.

6. Sick leave during or following pregnancy

If a pregnancy related illness occurs during or following pregnancy, (i.e. outside the period of childbirth), it will not be used as a trigger point in the absence policy. All sickness absence should be recorded on Oracle as per the normal reporting rules and the reason

recorded as ‘pregnancy related’. For advice on what constitutes pregnancy related illness, please contact your HR Advisor.

Self-certificates and medical certificates, as appropriate, must be submitted for a pregnancy related illness. For illness unrelated to pregnancy, normal Agency sickness absence arrangements apply.

If you have a miscarriage before the 25th week of pregnancy then normal sick leave provisions will apply.

If you are unable to return to work at the end of your ordinary or additional maternity leave the usual arrangements for sickness absence apply.

If you are not entitled to contractual sick pay, you may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), but you will be disqualified from receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) during the 26 weeks starting with either:-

a. the beginning of the week you are first entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP); or

b. the beginning of the week you are first entitled to Maternity Allowance (MA); or

c. the beginning of the sixth week before the expected week of childbirth if you are entitled to SMP or MA and work beyond that date; or

d. the beginning of the sixth week before the expected week of childbirth if you are not entitled to SMP or MA.

The disqualification will remain in force as long as a period of incapacity for work or linked period of incapacity for work remains in force.

7. IVF

Appointments for IVF treatment will not be regarded as antenatal appointments; these will be dealt with as special leave. Absences resulting directly from the process of IVF will be dealt with as sickness absence and consideration will be taken regarding these being counted towards attendance management warning triggers.

8. Contact during maternity leave

The agency reserves the right to maintain reasonable contact with you during your maternity leave. This may be to discuss your plans for return to work, to discuss any special arrangements to be made or training to be given to ease your return to work or to update you on developments at work during your absence.

You should agree with your line manager prior to commencing maternity leave how you wish to be informed of any new vacancies in your division. You will still have access to Insite whilst you are on maternity leave.

9. Keeping in touch (KIT days)

Apart from the two weeks following childbirth, during your maternity leave, you may attend

work or carry out some other activity, e.g. attend a training course. You will be able to take up to 10 KIT days (which need not be consecutive) to enable you to keep in touch with your job or with developments in the workplace. These keeping in touch days are entirely voluntary and may only be worked if both you and your line manager agree to the arrangement.

If you choose to use the KIT days you will not be able to extend the overall 52-week maternity leave period by the number of days worked. Any part of a day worked will count as one day. You will be paid in full for any day worked, but will not be entitled to receive contractual maternity pay, SMP or MA in addition on that day.

10. Expressing milk

The agency provides a dedicated rest room for new mothers. Employees can use the contemplation room to express milk. The rest room is located on the Ground floor at BPR and in the Night Duty room at NIBSC.

If you are on maternity leave in a standard reporting year (paid or unpaid) you will be entitled to a PRP increase based upon an assessment of your performance during the part of the year when you were at work. If you have been at work for 3 months or more before going on maternity leave you should complete your PRP with your line manager before your maternity leave starts or arrange to do this during a KIT day (see above). If you have worked for less than 3 months during the standard reporting year, you will receive a PRP rating of ‘Good’. Your pay award will be paid from the date you return to work.

12. Protection against discrimination

All women have the right to protection from detrimental treatment on the grounds of pregnancy. This means, amongst other rights, that you cannot be dismissed because of pregnancy or childbirth or any reason connected with it during your maternity leave. If during maternity leave a redundancy situation occurs and it is impracticable to continue to employ you in the same post, you will be offered suitable alternative employment to a vacancy where possible.

13. Right to request flexible working

All employees may request to work flexibly. Additionally, employees with 26 weeks’ service with the agency have a legal right to make a request once in a 12-month period to work flexibly. Please refer to the Flexible working policy for further information.

14. Career breaks

All employees who have passed their probation period may submit a request to take a career break. Career breaks are an employee benefit, not an employment right and are granted at the discretion of the agency. All requests for career breaks will be considered against current and forecast business needs at the time the request is made. Please refer to the Career break policy for further information.

Additional documents

Maternity leave: appendix A - maternity risk assessment template for new or expectant mothers (PDF, 86.3KB, 7 pages)

Maternity leave: appendix B - application for maternity leave (PDF, 102KB, 3 pages)

Maternity leave: appendix C - notice of intention to return to work (PDF, 114KB, 3 pages)

Paternity Leave policy & procedure

January 2018

Policy review date: 31/05/2018

Introduction

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (the ‘Agency’) is committed to supporting staff in their obligations to their family. This Paternity Leave Policy has been designed to ensure that all members of staff are treated fairly and consistently and in line with relevant legislation.

The purpose of the policy is to set out the Agency’s provision for Paternity Leave for employees who become parents. Paternity Leave is intended to support parents in the early stage of a child’s life. Following the birth or placement of a child, eligible employees can take up to two weeks’ paid paternity leave to care for the child and/or to support the other parent.

1. Scope

This policy is applicable to all employees if their partner is having a baby, adopting a child or having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement and meet the eligible criteria below.

2. Eligibility

Paternity leave is available to employees who wish to take time off to look after the child and they are:

  • the biological father of the child or the spouse or partner of the mother who will give birth
  • the spouse or partner of the primary adopter*
  • the intended parent (if you are having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement)*
  • have or expect to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing; and
  • have worked continuously for the Agency for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due;

or

  • in the case of adoption and fostering, you will have worked continuously for 26 weeks by the ‘matching week’, i.e. at the end of the week in which the adopter/prospective adopter is notified of being matched with the child (UK adoptions), or the date the child enters the UK (overseas adoptions).

*In the case of couples who are adopting a child or having a child through a surrogacy arrangement, adoption leave and pay are available to only one member of the couple. The other person can take paternity leave.

Employees with less than the 26 weeks continuous service are not eligible for paternity leave

  1. Entitlement

Employees who meet the above eligibility criteria can choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks of paternity leave. Paternity leave must be taken in a single block and cannot be taken as odd days or as two separate weeks. A week is the same amount of days that you normally work in a week, for example if you only work on Mondays and Tuesdays a week is 2 days.

During paternity leave, eligible employees will be paid by the Agency at their normal rate of pay. (This will include an element of Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) where appropriate, which is effectively enhanced by the Agency to equal full pay).

Employees can take only one period of leave per pregnancy even if more than one baby is born as the result of the same pregnancy.

4. Start and end dates of Paternity Leave

Paternity leave can’t start until the birth of the baby; employees may be able to take some annual leave before. Employees will need to take their paternity leave within 56 days and can choose to take their leave on any day of the week:

  • from the date of the child’s birth, placement or arrival in the UK (whether this is earlier or later than expected), or
  • a chosen number of days or weeks after the date of birth, placement or arrival in the UK (whether this is earlier or later than expected), or
  • from a chosen date after the expected date of birth or placement

5. Notification process

Employees should discuss their intention to take paternity leave with their line manager as early as possible so that early consideration can be given to covering their work during their absence.

To qualify for paternity leave employees must formally inform the Agency by completing the Paternity Leave Application Form – Annex A and submit it alongside any relevant paperwork on Fusion. The form must be submitted:

  • in the case of births, including surrogate births, by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due, or, if this is not possible, as soon as is reasonably practicable
  • in the case of adoptions or fostering for adoption, within 7 days of the adopter being advised of being matched with the child or, if this is not reasonably practicable, as soon as is reasonably practicable

Employees who are eligible, can choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks’ paid paternity leave (not odd days).

6. Paternity Pay

To qualify for paternity pay, employees must:

  • have worked continuously for the Agency for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (known as the ‘qualifying week’)
  • be employed by the Agency up to the date of birth/matching week
  • earn at least £113 a week (before tax)
  • give the correct notice (as above)

Tax and National Insurance will be deducted as usual from paternity pay. Paternity pay is paid at an enhanced rate as follows: Length of service Paternity leave Paternity pay 1 year or more 2 weeks 2 weeks’ full pay (inclusive of occupational paternity pay) 26 weeks to less than a year 2 weeks 2 weeks’ statutory paternity pay or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower)

7. Antenatal Appointments

Employees can take unpaid leave to accompany a pregnant woman to 2 antenatal appointments if you are:

  • the baby’s father
  • the expectant mother’s spouse, partner or civil partner
  • in a long-term relationship with the expectant mother
  • the intended parent (if you’re having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement)
  • or 2 adoption appointments after you have been matched with a child

8. If you lose your baby

In the sad circumstances of the pregnancy ending in stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy (defined as stillbirth) or born alive at any point during the pregnancy, an employee will still be entitled to Paternity Leave as outlined above.

Employees can also obtain support through the Agency’s independent Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), Workplace Wellness. Details can be found on INsite.

9. Shared Parental Leave

Employees may be able to get Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if they’ve had a baby or adopted a child.

Employees can start SPL if they’re eligible and they or their partner end their maternity or adoption leave or pay early. The remaining leave will be available as SPL. The remaining pay may be available as ShPP.

Employees can take SPL in up to 3 separate blocks. They can also share the leave with their partner if they’re also eligible. Parents can choose how much of the SPL each of them will take.

10. Further information

Should you have any queries regarding this policy, further information can be sought from your HR Coordinator.

Additional documents

Paternity Leave: annex1 - paternity leave application form (PDF, 54.2KB, 1 page)

Shared Parental Leave policy

Policy statement

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is committed to being a good modern employer and to offering employees and family friendly employment policies that support business needs. This approach supports employee motivation and work life balance. It also helps retain talented employees.

Purpose

Shared parental leave (SPL) is a statutory entitlement to flexible parental leave and pay, available to both parents on an equal basis. Legislative provisions to implement SPL are set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 and statutory instruments made under the powers in the Act.

SPL aims to:

  • allow working parents to share the care of their children
  • enable working fathers to take a more active role in caring for their children
  • reduce the gender bias that currently impacts on women’s careers.

Where a woman and her partner meet the qualifying conditions for SPL, the woman can end her maternity leave and pay, or commit to ending it at a future date and share the untaken balance of maternity leave and pay as SPL and pay. For adoptive parents, the primary adopter will have to bring their adoption leave period to an end before they or their partner are entitled to SPL.

Scope

This policy and related procedure apply to all employees who meet the eligibility criteria (length of service and economic activity) for SPL as set out in the Shared Parental Leave Procedure. Each parent will need to qualify for leave and pay in their own right. This policy applies to births where the expected week of childbirth begins on or after 5 April 2015 and to adoptions where a child is matched or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015.

Policy principles

The following principles and values underpin this policy: * protection – retained protection for pregnant women and mothers immediately before and after childbirth. * flexibility – increased flexibility for employers and employees giving a choice on how employment and caring is shared between parents. * simplicity – straightforward procedures, easy to access and manage. * shared responsibility – a system more balanced between genders that allows negotiation of leave patterns between employer and working parents.

Further information

Further information and advice about SPL is available in the Shared Parental Leave Procedure, the ‘How to’ guides, Frequently Asked Questions and Glossary.

Shared Parental Leave procedure

Introduction

  1. Shared parental leave (SPL) and shared parental pay (ShPP) provide parents with the opportunity to share the care of their child in the first year, whilst balancing their work and retaining their link to the labour market.

  2. SPL is available to both parents, including adopters and their partners, with main caring responsibilities for a child. It is a statutory entitlement in addition to maternity, paternity and adoption leave. SPL allows eligible parents the choice to end the mother’s maternity leave and pay, or the primary adopter’s adoption leave and pay early, and share the untaken balance as SPL and ShPP. The mother or primary adopter must still take their two weeks post birth compulsory maternity leave or first two weeks adoption leave.

  3. This Procedure should be used by employees and line managers for the application and management of SPL within the agency. It supports the Shared Parental Leave Policy and should be used in conjunction with the “How to guides”. Where necessary, line managers should consult HR for advice.

  4. A flowchart showing the overview of eligibility is at Annex A.

Definitions

  1. In this document the following terms and definitions apply:
  • Mother – the birth mother of the child
  • Primary adopter – the person with whom the adoptive child is expected to be placed and who has primary care for the child
  • Partner – this can be a child’s biological father, the mother’s partner, or the primary adopter’s partner who can be their husband/wife, civil partner or partner living in an enduring relationship with them and the child
  • Parent – refers to the birth parents of the child and to adoptive parents or intended parents in surrogacy arrangements
  • Expected week of childbirth (EWC) in relation to a child means the week, beginning on a Sunday, in which the doctor or midwife expects the child to be born.

Roles and responsibilities

  1. The individual roles and responsibilities of line managers and employees in the application process are set out in the following guidance:
  • How to: apply for shared parental leave – Advice for employees
  • How to: consider shared parental leave requests – Advice for line managers.

Eligibility

  1. SPL and ShPP applies to births where the EWC begins on or after 5 April 2015 and to adoptions where a child is matched or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015. The EWC on the maternity certificate (form MATB1) will be used to establish eligibility, irrespective of the actual birth date.

  2. To qualify for statutory SPL and ShPP, both parents (mother/primary adopter and her partner) must meet an economic activity test relating to employment and earnings and an individual test relating to duration of service as well as having main caring responsibility for the child:

  • Stage 1 - the joint or economic activity test

In order to qualify, an employed person must have a partner who:

a) shares the main responsibility for the care of the child and is either:

  • their husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter

  • the child’s other parent

  • their partner.

b) declares that they meet the employment and earnings test. This requires them to have worked for any 26 out of the 66 weeks leading up to the EWC or the adoption matching date and earned at least £30 gross a week for any 13 of those 66 weeks.

  • Stage 2 - the individual test

a) to be eligible for SPL, each parent must have at least 26 weeks continuous service with their respective employer by the end of the 15th week, before the EWC or adoption matching date. They must also still be working for the same respective employer when they intend to take the leave.

b) to be eligible for ShPP each parent must have 26 weeks continuous service with their respective employer at the 15th week before the EWC or adoption placement date. Earnings for the eight week period prior to the 15th week before the EWC or adoption placement date must be over the lower earnings limit.

  1. Employees in a surrogacy arrangement, who are eligible and intend to apply for a parental order, and employees adopting through an approved agency and applying for an adoption order, may also be eligible for SPL. They can opt into SPL once they have accessed adoption leave and pay. Information on approved adoption agencies and parental orders is in the Frequently Asked Questions section.

  2. The mother/primary adopter and their partner need to jointly consider whether they meet the qualifying criteria for SPL. This also applies to prospective parents who have a child placed with them under fostering to adopt arrangements.

Entitlement

  1. Shared parental leave (SPL) and shared parental pay (ShPP) is a joint entitlement.

  2. Before any SPL and ShPP can be taken, maternity/adoption leave and pay must have ended or there must be a commitment to bring the maternity/adoption leave and pay to an end at a later date.

  3. All employed mothers/primary adopters (including intended parents in surrogacy arrangements) are entitled to 52 weeks of statutory maternity/adoption leave regardless of their length of service. Entitlements to different levels of paid leave and how and when to provide notification are set out in the Maternity/Adoption Policy and Procedures. The Maternity Policy and Adoption Policy can be found on the agency intranet.

  4. As long as a mother has taken her two week post birth compulsory maternity leave period, she will be able to bring her maternity leave to an end early and convert the untaken balance of leave into SPL. If eligible, both parents can choose to share the untaken balance of maternity leave as SPL and ShPP.

  5. A primary adopter must take their first two weeks adoption leave before they are able to bring their adoption leave to an end early and convert the untaken balance into SPL. If eligible, both primary and secondary adopters can choose to share the untaken balance of adoption leave as SPL and ShPP.

  6. SPL can be taken by the partner concurrently with the mother/primary adopter on maternity/adoption leave or both parents can be on SPL together. The combined leave taken by the parents must not exceed their joint entitlement.

  7. If circumstances change and the mother/primary adopter and/or their partner no longer have caring responsibility for the child, they must immediately inform their line managers that they are no longer entitled to SPL.

False declaration

  1. If an employee fraudulently or negligently gives incorrect information, or makes a false statement or declaration about their circumstances, this will be considered a disciplinary offence. Action will be taken in accordance with the agency misconduct procedures (Poor Performance & Misconduct Policy).

Pay

  1. The agency will pay ShPP as follows.
  • Eligible employees will be entitled to claim ShPP of up to 39 weeks (less any weeks of statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance or statutory adoption pay already claimed) within one year from the birth or placement.
  • For 26 of those weeks leave, occupational ShPP will be paid at full pay, less any weeks statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance or statutory adoption pay and leave already taken.
  • The remaining 26 weeks of SPL will be paid at statutory rate for 13 weeks and 13 weeks unpaid. This mirrors the agency’s occupational maternity pay arrangements.
  • Regardless of whether one or both parents work in the Civil Service, the amount of ShPP entitlement is counted down from when the 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance or statutory adoption pay starts.
  • The agency will not pay more than 26 weeks full maternity pay, adoption pay or ShPP in aggregate to an eligible couple within the Civil Service, as this is a joint entitlement.
  • SPL and ShPP can be taken at any time during the first year following the birth or placement for adoption, so long as the compulsory maternity period, or two weeks adoption leave, has been taken.
  1. Payment of occupational ShPP is conditional upon eligible employees:
  • being in paid service at the time their SPL begins and having one year’s Civil Service service

  • stating their intention to return to work in the Civil Service after their final period of SPL. Employees are required to give at least 28 days’ notice of their intention to return and to complete at least one further calendar months’ service, in accordance with the Maternity Policy.

  • agreeing to repay any occupational ShPP received (less any statutory ShPP) if they do not return to work in the Civil Service.

Ante-natal and pre-adoption appointments

  1. Pregnant women are entitled to reasonable paid leave to attend ante-natal appointments (see the Maternity Policy for more information). Fathers, or an expectant mother’s partner, have a right to take paid time off work to accompany a pregnant woman to attend up to two ante-natal appointments This covers the actual time needed to attend the appointments up to a limit of six and half hours per appointment. There is no qualifying length of service required in order to exercise this right. The Maternity Policy, Adoption Policy and Special Leave Policy can be found on the agency intranet.

  2. This statutory right is available to the husband, civil partner, or partner of the pregnant woman, the father or parent of the expected child, or intended parents in surrogacy cases who meet specified conditions relating to Parental Orders under the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Act 2008.

  3. The mother retains the right to decide if her partner, or the intended parents in surrogacy arrangements, can attend these appointments with her.

  4. Employed couples who are adopting are entitled to time off to attend pre-adoption appointments. This includes prospective adopters with whom a child is placed under a “fostering to adopt” arrangement.

Requesting leave for ante-natal or adoption appointments

  1. A mother’s partner has the right to take time off in order to attend two ante-natal appointments. This covers the actual time needed to attend the appointments up to a limit of six and half hours per appointment. Employees should advise their line manager of the appointment dates and times as early as possible.

  2. The primary adopter is entitled to take paid time off work to attend up to five pre-adoption appointments. The secondary adopter or partner is entitled to take paid time off to attend up to two pre-adoption appointments. This covers the actual time needed to attend the appointments and is limited to six and half hours per appointment.

  3. If requested, adoptive parents will need to provide evidence to their line managers that the local authority has requested their attendance at adoption meetings.

  4. Line managers and employees should discuss whether working from home or flexibly around appointments would help minimise their absence from work. The Flexible Working Policy is available on the agency intranet.

Notice to end maternity leave

  1. A mother on maternity leave can end her maternity leave either by returning to work or by giving notice that she will end her leave and/or pay on a date following the two week compulsory period (four weeks for factory workers) after the birth of her child. Notice must be given using the SPL and ShPP Form. Where notice to end maternity leave is accompanied with notification by the mother or her partner to take SPL, the notice to end maternity leave is binding.

  2. The maternity leave will end on that date, whether or not the mother returns to work, unless the mother revokes any notice given prior to childbirth, within six weeks following the birth.

  3. Ending or committing to end maternity leave and pay on a specific date determines the number of weeks entitlement to SPL and ShPP. Eligible parents can share the remaining balance of leave as SPL (up to 50 weeks) and ShPP (up to 37 weeks). If the mother returns to work in advance of the date given on the notice, the entitlement to SPL and ShPP will still be based on the original end date.

Notice to end adoption leave

  1. To end their adoption leave and/or pay, primary adopters on adoption leave must give at least eight weeks’ notice and have taken the first two weeks as statutory adoption leave. This notice must also be at least one week before the last day of the statutory adoption leave period. Notice must be given using the SPL and ShPP Form.

  2. Adoption leave will end on the date notified, whether or not the adopter returns to work.

  3. Ending or committing to end adoption leave on a specific date determines the number of weeks entitlement to SPL and ShPP. Eligible parents can share the remaining untaken balance of leave as SPL (up to 50 weeks) and ShPP (up to 37 weeks). If the primary adopter returns to work in advance of the date given on the notice, the entitlement to SPL and ShPP will still be based on the original end date.

Revoking a binding notice to end maternity leave

  1. To opt into SPL, a birth mother will have given binding notice to end her maternity leave early without taking her full maternity entitlement.

  2. She can revoke binding notice given prior to childbirth, up to six weeks following childbirth, providing she has not returned to work. This is because returning to work will automatically end her maternity leave.

  3. Her partner must immediately inform their employer of any change to their entitlement to SPL.

  4. If a birth mother has revoked her notice in the six weeks following childbirth, she can still submit binding notice to end maternity leave at a later date, by giving eight weeks notice.

Providing notification for SPL

  1. For parents to access SPL and ShPP, the mother/primary adopter will first need to give their employer at least eight weeks’ notice of their intention to end maternity/adoption leave. Where notice to end maternity leave is accompanied with notification by the mother or her partner to take SPL, the notice to end maternity leave is binding. The mother’s/primary adopter’s maternity/adoption leave and maternity/adoption pay period will cease on the day specified on the notice.

  2. Notification periods for SPL are the same for the mother/primary adopter and their partner in maternity, adoption, and surrogacy arrangements.

  3. An employee will need to give their line manager a minimum of eight weeks’ notice of intention to take SPL using the SPL and ShPP Form. This includes a non-binding indication of the expected pattern of leave to give an early indication to line managers of the intended leave pattern.

  4. The notice can be submitted at any time, provided that a minimum of eight weeks’ notice is given for each period of leave. Early notification allows employees and line managers to begin discussions about dates and patterns of leave sooner and plan for absences. If the notification is submitted only eight weeks before the first day of the first period of leave this notification will also become the binding notice of SPL (detailed below). More detailed information on notice periods is in the Frequently Asked Questions section and in the “How to guides.”

  5. Line managers must request the following as evidence to ensure an employee’s entitlement to SPL:

  • a copy of the child’s birth certificate or, if unavailable, a declaration signed by both parents stating the date and location of birth – If the request is made before the birth of the child this must be provided within 14 days of the child’s birth. If the request is made after the birth of the child this must be provided within 14 days of the request

or * a copy of a matching document issued by the adoption agency, notifying that the child is to be placed with the primary adopter – This must be provided by the employee within 14 days of the request

and * the name and address of their partner’s employer – This must be provided within 14 days of the request.

Fostering to adopt

  1. In fostering to adopt arrangements, ‘looked after children’ are placed with approved foster parents who agree to adopt the child with little or no notice, if the parental rights of the birth parents are terminated.

  2. In these circumstances, employees will be unable to provide the usual notice required prior to their absence on adoption leave. Foster to adopt parents are specially trained in placements that are likely to lead to adoption. Therefore, prospective parents in this situation are encouraged to have early discussions with their line manager to help prepare for absences at short notice.

SPL pattern requests

  1. SPL allows working parents to take short periods of leave in minimum one week blocks. This enables them to intersperse periods of work with periods of leave and to take leave at the same time if they choose to. Each employed parent agrees their pattern of leave with their line manager.

  2. To confirm their leave requirements, an employee must provide their line manager with binding notice of SPL on the SPL and ShPP Form, signed by them and their partner.

This must be received a minimum of eight weeks before the employee intends to be absent on SPL. It does not need to include details of all the requested SPL and all discontinuous weeks. Any subsequent leave requests will require an eight week notice period and be subjected to the limit of three notifications. This limit includes the initial request of SPL and any previously notified SPL requests. There can only be three formal notifications for leave or changes to periods of SPL overall.

  1. Line managers will need to check through BMS that their employee meets the qualifying criteria for SPL and ShPP. They should consider the needs of the business before agreeing any periods of discontinuous weeks of SPL in a single notice. At no point will the respective line managers of each parent be expected to contact one another.

  2. During the first two weeks of the eight week notice period, the line manager and employee should discuss and agree sign-off of the leave pattern(s). An employee may withdraw a notice without penalty in these two weeks.

  3. If the employee and line manager cannot reach agreement, the employee is entitled to take their SPL in a single block commencing on a date specified by the employee. This start date can be provided up to five days after the two week discussion period, provided the leave period starts no sooner than eight weeks from the submission of the original notification.

  4. If a line manager fails to respond to an employee’s notice of SPL and requested pattern, the SPL will revert to the default position of a continuous period of leave for the total amount of SPL requested in the pattern. The employee will have five days from the end of the two week discussion period to notify their line manager of when that continuous period will start. This must not be within eight weeks of the original submission of the request, but can be later. If the employee does not specify a start date then the SPL will start on the first date stated in their original request.

Requests to change SPL patterns

  1. Once an employee has submitted notice of a period of SPL they will only be able to withdraw that request within the two week discussion period at the beginning of the eight weeks notice. To make changes after this point they would need to submit a formal change notification, which would be included in the limit of up to three notifications overall.

  2. If already within a period of agreed leave, this will continue until agreement of a new leave pattern is reached and the required notice period is completed. Notice periods may be waived due to unforeseen circumstances.

  3. Changes which are mutually beneficial to the business and the employee can be made without this counting towards the limit of three notifications.

Managing SPL

  1. It is important for employees and their line managers to keep in touch during extended periods of absence from the workplace. This enables line managers and employees to be kept updated on changes within the workplace, or personal circumstances, which can ease the employees return to work.

SPL in Touch (SPLIT) Days

  1. The right to maternity “Keeping in Touch” (KIT) days remains until maternity leave ends. Once SPL begins, each parent can have up to 20 SPLIT days each to use whilst on SPL. It is anticipated that SPLIT days will be used to enable an employee to return to work for one or more days in the weeks they are absent on SPL for training/keeping up to speed with changes in work, part time working or a phased return to work. Full pay will apply for these days and they may only be used with the agreement of the employer and the employee.

Leaving the agency

  1. If an employee leaves the agency and the civil service as a whole during a period of SPL, they are no longer eligible for SPL and ShPP. An employee will need to repay any occupational ShPP paid during their SPL, excluding statutory ShPP.

  2. If an employee transfers to another government department, they remain in civil service employment. As there is no break in continuity of service, their entitlement to SPL and ShPP is unlikely to be affected. However, if an employee has agreed an SPL pattern with their previous department they will need an early discussion of these arrangements with their new line manager to ensure they can be honoured.

  3. If SPL is taken during a loan or secondment period, line managers and employees should refer to agency guidance on loans and secondments. The secondment or loan agreement should be discussed by the contracting parties.

Right to return

  1. Employees who end their right to maternity or adoption leave will no longer benefit from specific rights associated with maternity or adoption leave. However, similar rights are provided under SPL.

  2. Under SPL, the right to return to the same job is maintained for all employees returning from any period of leave (maternity, paternity, adoption, or SPL) that totals 26 weeks or less in aggregate, even if the leave is taken in discontinuous blocks. Up to four weeks of unpaid parental leave are disregarded for the purpose of the right to return to the same job.

  3. Employees also have the right to return to the same job, or, if it is not reasonably practical for the employer, enter another job which is both suitable and appropriate for them, if:

  • total SPL taken when added to any other period of relevant statutory leave is more than 26 weeks; or
  • a period of SPL was consecutive with a period of parental leave of more than four weeks; or
  • a period of SPL was the last of two or more consecutive periods of relevant statutory leave of more than four weeks.
  1. Line managers should follow agency guidance on risk assessments for new and expectant mothers throughout the pregnancy and on the mother’s return from maternity and/or SPL in the six month period following birth. Details of the agency’s pregnancy risk assessments may be found within the Health and Safety section of the intranet.

  2. If an employee would like to return to work using a different working pattern, this is considered in line with the ‘Flexible Working Policy’ and supporting documents, which may be found on the HR pages of the intranet. When considering an application for a different working pattern, line managers will try to accommodate the request, but there can be no guarantee that it will be agreed.

Further information

  1. For further information on the SPL application process, see the line manager and employee “How to guides” and checklists, Frequently Asked Questions and Glossary.

  2. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) also have guidance on SPL.

  3. Any enquiry about the content of this instruction, or request for advice about the application of the procedures to particular circumstances, should be referred directly to the HR team.

Additional documents

Shared Parental Leave policy and procedure: Annex 1 - flowchart to show overview of eligibility (PDF, 210KB, 2 pages)

Published 28 September 2018