Q:  Does it make any difference if the parents are same sex?

A:  No it doesn’t matter what sex the parents are although clearly only a woman is going to be in a position to curtail her maternity leave or pay. The key is the person having ‘parental responsibility’ for the child. For this reason an ‘absent’ father is not going to qualify to take leave.

Q:  What happens if the due date is 28th March (i.e not eligible) but baby doesn’t arrive until 5th April?  

A:  As the expected week of childbirth is not on or after 5th April, the parents are not eligible even if baby arrives on 5th April.

QI’ve been given the task of creating our SPL policy and also amending the other policies as necessary (e.g. Maternity Pay, Adoption Pay, Paternity Rights) – will the new legislation on SPL affect what we already have in place with regard to our ‘Unpaid Parental Leave Policy’?  I can’t see anything directly that leads me to believe that this should/will change.

A: No unpaid parental leave is unaffected by this (unpaid parental leave comes from European law). It is somewhat unfortunate that the name is the same and could confuse. It might be worth trying to address that somewhere in both policies?

Q: Can mothers whose babies are due on or after 5th April submit their requests/notices of entitlement for SPL (and pay) prior to the baby arriving (or child being placed for adoption) and hence prior to them actually being on maternity/adoption leave? For example as well as confirming start/end/due dates etc, letting the employer know that for instance ‘my maternity leave and pay starts on 1st May, I wish to take 2 weeks of maternity leave and pay to 14th May and following this I intend to avail of the 50 weeks remaining as SPL available to me and my partner’?

A: Yes mothers can from 1st Dec 2014 start sending in forms and ‘pre-book’ SPL even though baby isn’t due until on or after 5th April. To curtail maternity leave it doesn’t need to have commenced.

Thus you can have a scenario where they put in a form, give you an indication of a particular pattern of leave and start date for swapping from maternity leave to shared parental leave etc and then they have the baby, change their mind and give you 8 weeks notice of the changes.