Law guide: Employment

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Terms and conditions during shared parental leave

Terms and conditions during shared parental leave

Contents

An employee's employment contract continues during shared parental leave (SPL) unless either you or the employee expressly ends it or it expires.

Terms of employment contact

During SPL, an employee has the right to receive all their contractual benefits under the terms and conditions of employment (except wages or salary).

Their rights will accrue for any employment-related benefit schemes.

Examples of contractual terms and conditions that continue during SPL include:

  • Gym membership
  • Participating share schemes
  • Reimbursing professional subscriptions
  • Using a company car or mobile phone (unless provided for business use only)

Continuous employment and SPL

SPL counts towards an employee's period of continuous employment for the purposes of being entitled to other statutory employment rights, e.g. the right to a redundancy payment.

It also counts towards assessing seniority and personal length-of-service payments, such as pay increments, under their employment contract.

Annual leave

An employee continues to accrue statutory 5.6 weeks' annual leave entitlement during SPL, as well as any contractual entitlement that they might provide.

An employee can't take annual leave during SPL, but they can take it immediately after it ends.

Pension contributions

You should continue to pay contributions towards any workplace pension scheme while the employee is on SPL. Usually your obligation to pay these contributions will end once the employee can no longer receive statutory shared parental pay (SSPP), unless their employment contract states otherwise.

The employee must continue to pay their pension contributions if the pension scheme requires them to do so. An employee won't have to make any contributions towards their pension during any period in which they aren't receiving any SSPP. However, they can still make voluntary contributions if the pension scheme allows them to do so.

Contact during leave

The general rule is that if an employee works for their employer during their SPL, this will bring their leave and SSPP to an end. This doesn't include 'keeping in touch' days (see below). However, you can still contact your employee and they can still contact you, whether by telephone, email, letter or a meeting in the workplace.

'Keeping in touch' days

An employee can come to work for up to 20 days during their SPL to keep in touch with workplace without affecting their right to SPL or SSPP. These 'keeping in touch' (KIT) days must be agreed between you and your employee. Therefore, your employee isn't required to take a KIT day, nor should you be obliged to offer, request or agree to the employee working a KIT day.

The KIT days will be in addition to any 'keep in touch days' taken by employees who took maternity leave.

During KIT days, the employee can carry out their normal day-to-day work but they can also take part in other activities that would help them keep in touch with the workplace, such as attending conferences, training days or team meetings.

Any work done on a KIT day will count as one KIT day. So, if they came into work to attend a training session or meeting for 30 minutes, they would have used up one KIT day.

Payment for KIT days

You must continue to pay SSPP if your employee is receiving it when they work a KIT day.

The SSPP towards any contractual pay you agree with your employee for working a KIT day.

Any KIT days worked won't extend an employee's SPL period, nor their entitlement to SSPP.

Returning to work

An employee will have a right to return to a job with the same seniority and pension rights. They'll also have the right to return to a job with similar rights and to the same terms and conditions (including remuneration) that are as favourable as they would have been if they hadn't taken leave.

After taking shared parental leave (SPL), your employee will have a right to return to work to the same job that they had before if they took a period of SPL. However, this might not be the case if the employee takes a period of SPL that:

  • followed 2 or more consecutive periods of leave that included a period of additional maternity or adoption leave, or a period of more than 4 weeks' parental leave; or
  • when combined with a period of other leave, such as paternity, maternity or adoption leave, equals more than 26 weeks.

In this case, the employee will be able to return to the same job, but only if it is reasonably possible for you to allow them to. If not, the employee will be entitled to return to another job that is both suitable and appropriate for them to do.