What contractual pay is offered to mothers* on maternity leave? 26 weeks’ full pay
What contractual pay and leave is being offered to fathers/other parent who opt to take SPL? 26 weeks’ full pay
Does contractual pay have to be repaid if the employees does not to return? No
Will entitlement to SPL be reduced according to SML already taken? It is for both parents to work out how to split any SPL, taking into account any SML already taken, ie. our entitlement to SPL follows the legislative requirements
Is your contractual Shared Parental Pay reduced by the number of weeks of SMP received by the mother? If the mother is a Linklaters employee, she is entitled to 26 weeks contractual full pay in total, regardless of whether this is taken as maternity leave or SPL.  If the father is a Linklaters employee, he is entitled to 26 weeks contractual full pay, regardless of any SMP or contractual pay received by the mother from her employer
Can SPL be taken from day one of employment? Entitlement to take SPL follows legislative eligibility requirements, so employees must have 26 weeks service at end of 15th week before EWC to qualify
Is it tied to the date of the child’s birth? See above re eligibility requirements
Are there any limitations on how SPL can be taken ie minimum continuous block? We follow the legislative requirements ie. employee may request leave in up to 3 separate blocks
Do you incentivise certain patterns of leave? We do not promote a particular pattern of leave.  However, full contractual pay is only taken for shared parental leave mirroring ordinary maternity leave (ie. taken in one block of up to 26 weeks following the birth of the child)
Do you offer a bonus on return from SPL if minimum period it taken? No – first 26 weeks of leave are fully bonusable at year end (regardless of length of SPL taken)

*or primary adopter

How are you communicating and encouraging people to take SPL?

We have publicised our new policy on our intranet, and have rolled out the policy via written firm-wide communications and presentations in team meetings.  We have also linked in with our Family and Carers Network, to ensure that our policy is publicised in relevant sessions conducted by them.

Can you describe what wider cultural changes needed to support SPL are being implemented?

A key cultural change is an acceptance that individuals are committed, engaged and fully able to fulfil their work obligations, even if they are not physically at their desks.  We are reviewing our work life balance and flexible working policies and practices, to support all employees who wish to pursue other interests outside of work, whether that be family-related or otherwise.  In due course, we will also be identifying senior male and female role models within the business who can tell their stories re taking SPL – this will include fathers who have taken shared parental leave, and mothers who have had the benefit of their partners sharing their leave, and the impact that this has had on both their family life, and their return to work.

What do you expect take up of SPL amongst fathers to be? Have you surveyed your employees about SPL and uptake?  Other surveys have shown that mothers may be unwilling to relinquish maternity leave: have you detected similar?

It is still too soon after implementation to assess this.  We have already had one father who is due to take 7 weeks shared parental leave shortly.  We have also had significant interest from prospective fathers who are interested in taking SPL, although this has not yet manifested itself in formal applications.  We would expect the levels of interest to increase, as people get more familiar with the benefit, and our ‘good news’ stories are more widely publicised.

Do you have any insight into how parents might like to take SPL? Which is best for your business in terms of planning?

Our expectations are as follows:  mothers – will take at least 6 months’ maternity leave, although this may be converted to SPL to enable them to share this with their partners; fathers – will take in one block, either immediately following on from paternity leave or at a later date (ie. will take 2 weeks paid paternity leave, return to work, and take a subsequent block).  For fathers, we expect a typical period of leave (combining paternity and SPL) to be of between 8 – 12 weeks maximum.

What is best for our business will depend on the type of work done by that employee, and the period of the year in which they are seeking to take the leave.   For example, some of our client work is transactional, and involves periods of intensive work, followed by relatively quiet periods; whereas other client work is most consistently spread over the year.  Typically, we would expect periods of leave of one block to work best, from a planning perspective – however, this is something we will reassess, once we have had an opportunity to review SPL take up patterns.