On 1 April 2015, new rules will come into force allowing working parents to share leave for a year after their child is born. Janine Lawton, employment lawyer at Tallents Solicitors looks at the key points that employers should be aware of.

How will the new shared parental leave rules work?

Currently, mothers are allowed to share their maternity leave with the father, but only once the child has reached 20 weeks of age.

Under the new rules, the mother can hand over her parental leave to the father and return to work more quickly. The changes also allow the parents to switch back during the leave period.

What do employers need to know about shared parental leave?

Although the leave must be taken in full weeks, it can be taken either in one block or separately. Each parent can take up to three separate blocks of parental leave, either together or separately.

The parents must give their employers a non-binding indication of when they expect to take their parental leave and what proportion will be shared.

Who is eligible for shared parental leave?

Eligibility will depend on a number of factors:

The expected week of childbirth, or date for adoption, falls on or after 5 April 2015. The partner with whom the mother intends to share the parental leave must have a relationship to both the mother and child. The partner could be the child's father, the mother's husband or civil partner, or a partner of the mother that lives with both her and the child.

The mother must shorten her entitlement to maternity leave, pay and allowance, either by ending her maternity pay or allowance, or simply by returning to work.

In addition, the mother and her partner must share the primary responsibility for the child's care. They must also satisfy both the employment and earnings test and the continuity of employment test.

Janine finishes: "Employers need to start preparing for requests now and our employment experts at Tallents are here to offer advice."

www.tallents.co.uk