Following the 2018 pay deal, shared parental leave pay is due to be enhanced for employees under the 2018 NHS Terms and Condition of Service. Child bereavement leave provisions will also be introduced.
The NHS Staff Council has assembled a partnership sub group to take this work forward and help organisations prepare for the introduction of new arrangements, likely from 1 April 2019.
Shared parental leave
Shared parental leave is currently available in the NHS but unlike maternity and adoption pay, shared parental pay is only paid at statutory levels. Pending endorsement from the Staff Council (including from devolved administration representatives), from 1 April 2019 shared parental pay will be enhanced to the same levels as occupational maternity / adoption pay.
Eligibility for this enhanced level of pay will mirror current eligibility requirements for occupational maternity / adoption pay, as set out in section 15 of the NHS terms and conditions of service.
We would advise employers to take practical steps to ensure that eligible members of staff, who may be thinking of taking shared parental leave, are made aware that payment levels are being enhanced to the same levels of occupational maternity / adoption pay.
The pay differential between the rates for maternity / adoption, compared to rates for shared parental leave, has previously been a financial barrier to some staff taking up shared parental leave. Therefore, this change may encourage take-up of this entitlement.
Informing staff of upcoming changes will enable them to make informed decisions about their future arrangements. Employers are particularly encouraged to communicate with members of staff:
- currently on maternity or adoption leave
- due to take maternity or adoption leave
- currently on shared parental leave (this will be to notify them that if eligible, their level of pay will increase from 1 April 2019).
However, employers may wish to make all eligible staff aware of these new arrangements, as it may be difficult to identify which staff may be interested. For example, it may be the case that a partner of a woman on maternity leave (who may be employed outside of the NHS) would wish to take up shared parental leave.
In order to book shared parental leave an eight week notice period will be required, so staff members interested in this area should bear this in mind.
It is important to remember that, as shared parental leave is a joint entitlement between two partners, the partner in receipt of maternity / adoption pay will need to give binding notice to end their maternity / adoption leave and pay before taking up any period of shared parental leave and pay.
Shared parental leave is potentially a complex area, so should organisations have eligible members of staff who wish to book shared parental leave before the Staff Council publishes further details, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide further advice.
Note that as doctors and dentists in training have a dynamic link to section 15 of the handbook, they will be eligible as well as Agenda for Change staff.
Child bereavement leave
It is anticipated that with effective from 1 April 2019, a new provision will be available to all staff who suffer a child bereavement. The NHS will be an early implementer of the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 but, through the NHS Staff Council, a number of the statutory elements that will become available have been enhanced.
Employers will be required to ensure that any special leave policies are updated where appropriate, in line with the new contractual entitlements.