New shared parental leave and pay rights apply to the parents of babies due, or children matched for adoption, on or after 5 April 2015. As of that date, eligible parents of children due to be born or adopted on or after this date, are entitled to a maximum of 52 weeks’ leave and 39 weeks’ statutory pay upon the birth or adoption of the child, which can be shared between both parents.
What are the new rights for adopters?
As a result of this, employees who adopt now benefit from increased rights.
• Removal of the requirement for 26 weeks’ service before employees become entitled to adoption leave – it becomes instead a ‘day one’ right for which there is no qualifying period
• Both single and joint adopters have the right to attend adoption appointments (paid time off for up to five adoption appointments for the main adopter and unpaid time off for up to two appointments for the secondary adopter) and will be protected from suffering a detriment or being dismissed in relation to exercising that right
• Statutory adoption pay will be brought into line with statutory maternity pay – the first six weeks will be paid at 90% of the employee’s normal earnings
• Some surrogate parents will become eligible for adoption leave
• Current adoption rights will be extended to couples adopting a child from outside the UK and couples fostering children as part of a Fostering for Adoption placement.
What does this mean for employers?
The changes in respect of legislation relating to adoptions are likely to have a significant impact on employers, who will be required to allow adoption leave in a greater range of circumstances and will also be required to pay their employees more during any period of adoption leave. It is, therefore, particularly important for employers to have detailed policies and procedures in place to deal with these situations fairly and consistently.
For Simply-Docs’ full range of documents for managing the adoption process please click here.
Changes to unpaid parental leave
At the same time as the introduction of Shared Parental Leave and enhanced adoption rights, legislation regarding unpaid parental leave was also changed in favour of the employee.
From 5 April, the right to unpaid parental leave was extended to the parents of any child under the age of 18 years (this was previously available up to the age of five; 18 years in respect of disabled children).
Again, this is likely to have an impact on employers who are now required to allow their employees to take unpaid parental leave for a longer period of time. For the employer, this can be managed more effectively through the use of comprehensive policies that outline the requirements and obligations for unpaid parental leave.
Click here for Simply-Docs’ range of documents on unpaid parental leave.