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Shared parental leave policy

The Company recognises that the balance between work and family life is important and that there are a lot of things to think about when you share responsibility for a child. Shared parental leave is designed to give you, as a parent, more choice in how you care for your child, by allowing you to take leave flexibly in the first year of your child’s life.


We appreciate that individual circumstances mean that the parenting experience is different for everyone and can be more difficult for some; we will do everything we can do to support employees.


The Company recognises that the shared parental leave provisions are complex. The Shared Parental Leave Policy is designed to encourage open discussion with employees to ensure that any questions and/or issues can be resolved as quickly as possible and to ensure that the Company:

• complies with relevant employment legislation and Health and Safety at Work Regulations;
• follows best practice; and
• signposts employees to sources of support.

Shared parental leave and pay

You may be eligible for shared parental leave (SPL) for up to 50 weeks and pay (ShPP) for up to 37 weeks if you:

• have main responsibility for the care of your child with the other parent/partner;
• have at least 26 weeks’ employment at the 15th week before the baby’s expected week of childbirth (EWC) OR your adoption match date;
• have average earnings at or above the lower earnings limit in the 8 weeks before the 15th week before the EWC OR your adoption match date;
• are still employed until the week before any period of shared parental leave is taken;
• have a partner who has at least 26 weeks’ employment (with us or another company) or self-employment during the 66 weeks before the EWC OR your adoption match date (the weeks don’t have to be in a row) with average weekly earnings of at least £30 during 13 of those weeks.

If you are having your child by way of a surrogacy arrangement, you must have obtained a parental order in order to ask for SPL or ShPP.

Remember: For either parent to get SPL, the birth parent or primary adopter must either end their maternity or adoption leave and return to work OR give their employer notice to end (‘curtail’) their maternity or adoption leave early.

If eligible, there are many ways that you could use SPL, e.g.

• the birth parent or primary adopter returns to work early from maternity or adoption leave and takes SPL at a later date;
• the birth parent or primary adopter returns to work and their partner takes SPL;
• both parents are off at the same time; or
• the parents share SPL evenly and are off at different times.

The available shared parental leave is calculated by deducting the number of weeks’ maternity leave the mother has taken OR deducting the number of weeks’ adoption leave the primary adopter has taken on their return to work (or leave end date) from the full 50-week entitlement.

The leave must be taken in blocks of at least 1 week but doesn’t have to be taken as a single period and must be taken before your child’s 1st birthday. Each eligible parent has up to three times to either:

• book a block of SPL (‘notice to take leave’); or
• change the dates of booked SPL (‘notice to vary leave’).

You must give 8 weeks’ notice each time you want to book a block of SPL, but it can start on any day, for example if the first day of a week’s leave is Tuesday, the last day of leave would be the next Monday. In addition, you must give 8 weeks’ notice if you want to change or cancel SPL. The exception to this is if your child is born more than 8 weeks’ prematurely. In these circumstances you need to let your manager know as soon as possible and if you change your SPL dates this will not count as one of your 3 permitted times to book SPL.

There are two ways to take SPL:

Continuous leave – where you can book up to three blocks of SPL. If you request continuous leave, this cannot be refused.

Discontinuous leave – where you book a pattern of leave periods, e.g. to allow you to alternate childcare responsibilities with your partner. If you request discontinuous leave this can be refused if the business cannot accommodate the request. Your Line Manager has 14 days to consider your request and if unable to approve will talk to you about it and suggest alternative arrangements. If you cannot agree your original request/an alternative, you will be able to withdraw your request or take continuous leave instead (it cannot start sooner than 8 weeks from the date of the original leave request). If you withdraw your request it will not count in these circumstances it will not count as one of your 3 permitted times to book SPL.

Shared parental leave is in addition to the right to paternity leave and ‘ordinary’ parental leave. However, statutory paternity leave must be used by the father/partner before taking any shared parental leave, or they will lose the entitlement.

There is no increase in shared parental leave entitlement in the case of multiple births (in the same way that maternity, paternity and adoption entitlements do not increase).

There is one type of pay during shared parental leave – Statutory shared Parental Pay. To be eligible for this you and your partner must meet the criteria in 1.1 above. ShPP is paid for a maximum of 37 weeks at 90% of normal weekly earnings or the lower statutory rate2 (whichever is the lower). SPL taken over and above 37 weeks will be unpaid.

We recognise that things do not always go to plan. Sadly, in some cases, adoption placements end, and children/parents die. In some circumstances your shared parental leave may continue; in some circumstances the Company’s Bereavement Policy may also apply.

Please make sure your manager is made aware as soon as possible so that appropriate support and advice can be given. Further information and support can be found at Section 3.

If, for whatever reason, you stop sharing responsibility for a child, you must tell your manager straight away. Your right to SPL and ShPP will cease and you may be required to return to work immediately.

Your rights during shared parental leave

You need to consider carefully whether shared parental leave is the right option for you and, if it is the right option, when you should take it. Some of the potential impacts include:

• If you are the birth mother or primary adopter and on Company Maternity Pay (CMP) or Company Adoption Pay (CAP), i.e. first 13 weeks on full pay, and you choose to end your maternity/adoption leave before the end of the 13 weeks, you will lose any remaining CMP/CAP.

• If you are entitled to paid paternity leave and you choose to start shared parental leave before taking it, you will lose your entitlement to paternity leave as it cannot be taken once shared parental leave has started.

You will continue to accrue annual leave and bank holidays (on a pro-rata basis if you work part-time) while on shared parental leave.

Any leave accrued or carried over from the previous leave year must be taken before you return to work (i.e. taken at the end of the shared parental leave) unless otherwise agreed with your manager.

Any leave accrued from the current leave year may be used when you return to work - just book it on the appropriate system, in line with the Annual Leave Policy.

During paid shared parental leave, you will continue to pay your current percentage of pension contributions, based on the actual pay received. For any period of unpaid shared parental leave, you will have the option of making up your missed pension contributions on your return to work – if you want to make up your contributions, you have to make and confirm this decision within 60 days of your return. The Company will continue to pay its share of pension contributions during the entire paid shared parental leave period based on your usual salary.

You will retain all benefits while on shared parental leave, e.g. work mobile phone and membership of the Company’s private health care scheme continues (you will continue to be taxed monthly on the latter). Some benefits, like your company car/cash allowance you can keep or choose to return to avoid the tax implications of the benefit.

Loyalty Saving Scheme – you can choose to make up payments missed during periods of no pay. If you choose to keep saving without making up the missed payments, at the end if you are eligible for a bonus this will be paid pro-rata, based on months you have paid into the scheme. Payroll will contact you on your return to work to discuss if you wish to make up your missing payments.

Whilst on shared parental leave you will continue to be bound by all of the terms of your contract of employment except the right to be paid, including the implied obligations of good faith and confidentiality. You are not permitted to work for any other employer or organisation, whether paid or otherwise, during your shared parental leave.

Reasonable contact is permitted and actively encouraged during your shared parental leave – you should agree with your manager when and how you would like to be contacted, e.g. phone or email. Your work IT account will be frozen during your shared parental leave; your Line Manager will be able to ask for it to be made available if you need access, e.g. for KIT Days.

You and your partner can take up to 20 Shared Parental Leave In-Touch (SPLIT) days each. For the mother, this is in addition to maternity Keep In-Touch (KIT) days. SPLIT and KIT days can be taken without losing statutory payments for that week or bringing the leave to an end. These days are optional and are designed to give you the opportunity of keeping up to date while on leave and/or to ease your return to work and are paid at your normal daily rate (calculated by Payroll). You will need to agree your SPLIT days with your manager and will need to record these days for payment in Workday > Time.
‘Work’ means any work done under the contract of employment and may include training or any activity undertaken for the purpose of you keeping in touch with the workplace.

Returning to work

You must tell us of your intention to return to work at least 8 weeks before your intended return date by submitting the details on Workday. This means that you should contact your manager to discuss and agree your return-to-work arrangements, including the return date, hours of work and whether or not you wish to return on a part time basis (for 13 weeks or permanently), and arrangements for using up any accrued annual leave before you return before submitting the details on Workday.

If you fail to give 8 weeks’ notice of your return, we may postpone your return by eight weeks or to the end of your shared parental leave period if that is shorter. If you change your mind after you have submitted the details on Workday, you must give at least eight weeks’ notice of your new proposed return date.

You cannot extend your shared parental leave beyond 50 weeks using annual leave. However, you can extend it by up to 4 weeks by using unpaid Parental Leave. For more information see the Parental Leave Policy on Lighthouse.

We recognise that for some returning to work after shared parental leave may be an anxious time. We will do everything we can to make you feel comfortable, bring you up to date and ease your return. Please discuss and agree with your manager (before you return to work) a return-to-work plan to help make this as smooth as possible.

You have the right to return to the job you held before your shared parental leave, if your period of shared parental leave, when added to any other period of statutory maternity/adoption/paternity leave you have taken in relation to the same child, is 26 weeks or less.

If your period of shared parental leave, when added to any other period of statutory maternity/adoption/paternity leave you have taken in relation to the same child is more than 26 weeks you are entitled to return to the job you held before your shared parental leave, but if it is not reasonably practicable for the Company to give you exactly the same job back, you are entitled to a suitable job at the same level with terms and conditions at least as good as the previous job.