In April there were a large number of family friendly changes which were introduced by the Government, the most significant perhaps was Shared Parental Leave. I wonder how many of you readers are aware of the changes that were also made to Adoption Leave and Pay; Surrogate Parents and parents who are “fostering to adopt”; and changes to the original unpaid parental leave.
This blog is an introduction to them all except Shared Parental Leave (which needs a blog all of its own!) but for further information please contact me so that I can discuss your queries with you direct.
Unpaid parental leave has been around since 1999 having been introduced as a result of an EU directive. A parent has the right to take unpaid parental leave where they have one years’ continuous service with the employer and the leave is to take care of the child. The right is for 18 weeks unpaid leave per child and can be taken right up to the child’s 18th birthday; prior to April 2015 it had to be taken up to the child’s 5th birthday unless they were disabled in which case it was 18. This shouldn’t be confused with Shared Parental Leave.
Statutory Adoption Leave (SAL) has been amended so that it is now a Day One right; i.e. the employee no longer has to have 26 weeks service to be eligible for SAL. The right to adoption leave is available to one half of the couple; the other half may be eligible to take statutory paternity leave.
However, an employee will still need 26 weeks service to qualify for Statutory Adoption Pay. This has also been amended so that it is now in line with Statutory Maternity Pay. So if the employee has the requisite service and earns above the Lower Earnings Limit they will be entitled to 90% of average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks; thereafter they will receive the statutory rate which is currently £139.58 per week (see my separate newsletter on this here).
Adoption Leave and Pay is extended to now cover parents in a surrogacy situation and those in a “fostering to adopt” situation. The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced this right (together with ordinary paternity leave and pay, and shared parental leave and pay) to parents who have a child through a surrogacy arrangement or a "foster to adopt" arrangement, provided that they meet the eligibility criteria. The eligibility includes having a parental order issued by a court in a surrogacy situation; Local Authority foster parents who are prospective adopters and who have been notified by the Local Authority of a child’s placement are entitled to statutory adoption leave.
Finally, having extended the right for a father to have unpaid time off to attend ante-natal appointments in October last year, there are additional rights to time off in advance of adoption leave. Once an employee has been notified by an adoption agency that a child is to be, or is expected to be, placed for adoption, the employee has the right to attend meetings arranged by the agency. This right is for paid time off for up to five appointments (of a maximum 6 ½ hours each) if adopting alone or unpaid time off for up to two appointments (of a maximum 6 ½ hours each).
Please see separate blog about Shared Parental Leave.