Shared Parental Leave: self-employed left holding the baby

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) legislation came into force across the UK on 5 April. It gives parents, partners or adopters the opportunity to split parental leave between them or take time off together to care for their child (beyond the current two weeks paternity leave that is currently available to fathers). Those adopting a child are entitled to the same rights as other parents here.

SPL looks like a popular measure so far, with 4 out of 5 couples saying it’s something they would consider. It offers pay at 90% of a worker’s average weekly earnings before tax, for the first six weeks, and then £139.58 a week, or 90% of average weekly earnings – whichever is lower – for the next 33 weeks.

Not available to the self-employed

Unfortunately though, this new right is not available to the self-employed. Here’s what the Government regulations say:

“A self-employed parent will not be eligible for shared parental leave or pay but if they satisfy the “employment and earnings test” this may enable their employed partner to access shared parental leave and pay. If both parents are self-employed, neither parent will be entitled to shared parental leave or pay. The mother may be entitled to maternity allowance. If the mother has recently lost her job and she qualified for statutory maternity pay before losing her job, she will also be entitled to statutory maternity pay.”

With the number of self-employed people set to outstrip public sector workers in the UK, according to the RSA think tank, this seems to be a short-sighted exclusion. With already unequal maternity rights, self-employed women return to work a lot more quickly after having children and usually have little maternity cover. Those factors contribute to a haemorrhage of female-led companies during peak child-bearing years and the subsequent loss of potential growth to the UK economy.

Prowess Connect is calling for a full review of maternity and childcare support for parents who run their own business as part of our Manifesto for Women in Business.

New legislation always takes some time to get your head around and get used to. So for those who are eligible for SPL, here is a very useful infographic that seems to answer all the common questions you may have.



Thanks to Gotomeeting for creating this infographic.  Image: parental leave via Shutterstock.

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