Shared UK parental leave will need careful management, says Williams of Eversheds

Audrey Williams, partner at Eversheds, has said that shared parental leave will require careful management by employers and employees.

Williams said that there had been mixed reaction to the government’s announcement on shared parental leave, with some business representatives raising concerns about the complexity of the proposals.

She said: ‘The ability for parents to share up to 50 weeks’ leave in the first year of a new baby’s birth is intended to give parents flexibility, but could also make managing such absences easier for business.’

Williams also noted how the government has confirmed that the number of ‘blocks’ of leave that can be taken by each employee will now be limited to three, unless the employer agrees to more, saying that this ‘reflects a change in position by the government, following concerns expressed by employers’ groups about the fact that employees could break up their leave into many fragmented blocks by giving separate notices in respect of each block of leave.

‘Limiting the number of blocks of leave that can be taken, by capping the number of notifications of leave, to three per employee will make the shared parental leave provisions much more manageable for employers.’

The second key provision is that in the first 26 weeks of leave taken, either one stretch or in aggregate, the employee’s job will have to be kept open for them to return to.

‘These new rights, which will be implemented in April 2015, will require careful management and this will be made easier if there is clear dialogue with individuals seeking to rely upon them,’ said Williams.