Shared Parental Leave regulations are coming into force in April 2015. For babies due to be born on or after 5 April 2015, parents who are eligible will be able to spend up to 50 weeks of shared parental leave between them, with each being able to take up to three separate blocks of leave. Mother’s will have to take at least 2 weeks of maternity leave immediately after the baby is born, and thereafter working couples can chose when to take leave and return to work. For example both parents can chose to stay at home together for up to 26 weeks, or the mother might take the first 6 months and the father can take over for the next 6 months whilst she returns to work.
New regulations are in force from 1st October 2014 giving expectant fathers a right to take unpaid leave to attend up to two antenatal appointments with the expectant mother. Employment Relations Minister has recently said:
“Parenting is a shared endeavour and we want to encourage full involvement from fathers from the start. The right to time off work to attend antenatal appointments will help dads and partners play an important role in the early stages of pregnancy and will kick start a culture change in workplaces and help men feel more confident talking to their employers about taking time off for childcare. Dads have a key role to play in the first weeks and months of a baby’s life and it is right that the arrangements for parental leave should reflect that.”
Shared parental Leave will therefore give working couples choice and flexibility. Many working father’s presently are not able to spend time and bond with their babies in the early months. From April 2015, shared parental leave will give eligible working parents control over when they take leave so to be able to share the care of their child in the first year, subject to appropriate notice being given to their employers.
You can obtain more information about Shared Parental Leave and check your eligibility here.