Case study library

American Express


What contractual pay is offered to mothers* on maternity leave?20 weeks full pay
What contractual pay and leave is being offered to fathers/other parent who opt to take SPL?20 weeks full pay – if taken within the first 20 weeks of when the mother commences her maternity/adoption leave
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?Yes – it would be reduced. An employee can take maternity leave for up to 52 weeks, which if taking SPL, the mat leave would be curtailed. The time remaining from their maternity leave can then be shared with their partner and taken as Shared Parental Leave
Is your contractual Shared Parental Pay reduced by the number of weeks of SMP received by the mother?Yes – for maternity leave a mother may be entitled to 39 weeks pay, 20 weeks full pay, remaining 19 weeks pay at statutory rate. Where a mother curtails maternity leave, whatever amount of pay is left, this can be used and paid during their SPL (in line with our company/statutory requirements.)
Can SPL be taken from day one of employment?The employee must have a minimum of 26 weeks’ continuous service at the end of the Qualifying Week
Is it tied to the date of the child’s birth?SPL policy applicable to all parents of babies due on or after 5th April 2015 following the launch of the policy. SPL is available after 2 weeks (compulsory maternity leave) i.e. for 50 weeks after.
Are there any limitations on how SPL can be taken i.e. minimum continuous block?

Yes – minimum of one week block.

Can be spilt, leave taken during the first 20 weeks where company pay is payable, a 12 weeks notification period is applied. Can be taken as non paid after the first 20 weeks.

Can request or change SPL requests up to 3 times.

Do you incentivise certain patterns of leave?No
Do you offer a bonus on return from SPL if minimum period it taken?No

*or primary adopter

How are you communicating and encouraging people to take SPL?

The new AmEx Shared Parental Leave policy has been launched and demonstrates the Company’s strong commitment to diversity and family friendly values by enabling choice and flexibility around who the child is cared by in the first year following the birth. As with other UK family-friendly policies, the SPL policy is now available on the policy centre of our intranet site for all employees to view. Flow charts and user guides have been prepared and launched to simplify the complex benefit. Our HR servicing centre has been up-skilled to answer basic policy questions from employees and leaders. Our Parents & Carers network have run a number of events in April/May from virtual sessions to drop-in clinics, open to all employees, providing an opportunity to learn more about SPL. These events will continue to be run throughout 2015. Example invite for the types of events the network run are pasted below:

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

Further cultural change around leader mindset may be required. Currently we host family friendly workshops and classroom training to up skill leaders in how to manage and embed flexible working in the organisation. All People Leaders are invited to these sessions and going forward they will include a SPL component. Leaders will receive an invitation to attend this training from the Head of HR.

In trying to anticipate what cultural change is required, we have internally benchmarked and spoken with other organisations. A thorough review was conducted, looking externally and in other AmEx Markets which offer Parental Leave to Fathers to benchmark uptake and therefore anticipate any cultural barriers that may need to be overcome.

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?

As the SPL legislation is new, it’s difficult at this point in time to anticipate/share uptake or understand whether mothers will be reluctant to share the leave entitlement. We haven’t surveyed employees on this.

We took a two-pronged, approach to collating data to help us to anticipate/predict likely take up rates.

Firstly, we looked internally at our operations in other markets to determine whether Shared Parental Leave was already established anywhere else and if so, how the employee populations compared to the UK’s, from a job type and seniority perspective. Alignment from a cultural standpoint was also considered. Australia and Sweden were two markets identified as having Shared Parental Leave underpinned by policy and matching our other criteria. Data from these two markets was analysed and extrapolated to provide a prediction of likely take-up rates in the UK. Coupled with data already provided by the TUC and information about current maternity leave rates in our UK business, we were able to present an estimated cost to the business of the proposed approach.

As part of our due diligence process, we also wanted to ensure we understood what other large UK employers were doing, both in terms of their overall commitment to enhancing Shared Parental Leave, but also in terms of the criteria they considered to come to that decision. We spoke to a number of our peers also highlighted as Top Employers for Working Families as we felt that this was the best group of employers to engage on the topic, given our shared ongoing commitment to encouraging work-life balance.

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

We have asked employees for 12 weeks notification of intent to take SPL (versus statutory minimum of 8 weeks) to allow us to plan ahead and avoid business disruption where possible. We do anticipate that the secondary parent will likely take leave at the beginning and end of the maternity period.