Home Advice & informationShared Parental Leave How to take Shared Parental Leave (SPL) – notice and booking

How to take Shared Parental Leave (SPL) – notice and booking

How to take Shared Parental Leave – notice and booking

To take Shared Parental Leave (SPL) you have to:

  • Give your employer written notice that you are entitled, and how much you intend to take (this isn’t binding, but gives your employer an indication).
  • Separately, you would then need to give at least 8 weeks’ notice of the actual shared parental leave you want to take. This is called booking your SPL.

You can book one lot of SPL, or you can book up to 3 separate blocks, and the blocks can be continuous or discontinuous. Each parent can issue up to 3 notices to book or vary leave, so you don’t have to decide about all your SPL at once. Employers don’t have to agree to discontinuous leave, so it’s a good idea to have a discussion with your employer early on about what they might be able to allow. They do have to agree if you just book one lot of continuous SPL.

Remember that if the other parent/partner is the mother or main adopter, s/he needs to either end maternity/adoption leave by returning to work (by giving 8 weeks notice), or give binding notice in advance that s/he will be doing this. If leave doesn’t apply (for example because of self-employment or agency work), and to ensure Statutory Shared Parental Pay is payable, it’s necessary to ensure that Maternity Allowance or SMP are ‘curtailed’. This means giving binding notice to the employer or Jobcentre Plus to end these payments early.

Taking your leave in one block, up to three blocks or over three blocks 
There are detailed criteria you and your partner have to meet in order to be entitled to Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and pay.

There are a number of benefits involved in taking SPL not least that the care of your new baby can be shared between both parents. SPL is also much more flexible than Maternity Leave. Not only can you share the leave (up to 50 weeks) and pay (up to 37 weeks) with your partner, you can choose to split your leave into a number of blocks, returning to work between each block of leave. You can also choose to be off on leave at the same time as your partner, or stagger the leave between you so one of you is off with your child throughout the leave period. The only constraints on when you take the leave are that:
• all the leave must be taken before your baby’s first birthday
• your employer must agree the leave if you are requesting more than separate 3 blocks of leave (see below)
• the mother must take at least 2 weeks compulsory maternity leave and pay after the birth.
If you are entitled to SPL before booking your leave dates, we suggest that you start by having an informal discussion with your employer to see what arrangements they are likely to agree with. You can then embark on the formal steps of booking your leave (see below)

Submitting a Booking Notice or Several Booking Notices

In order to take SPL, you must submit a ‘booking notice’ to your employer at least 8 weeks before you intend to take your leave. Each partner must submit a booking notice to their employer. You may submit up to a maximum of three booking notices (or variation notices (see below)) unless your employer agrees you can submit more.

Example A
Here is an example of a booking notice: In this booking notice the employee has requested one block of leave. The employer cannot refuse this request
Period of Leave Notice
Start date for SPL End date for SPL
20 January 2020 14 September 2020
Notice to employer:
Please treat this as binding notice to take Shared Parental Leave on the dates specified above.

Example B
Here is an example of a booking notice: In this booking notice the employee has requested three periods/blocks of leave. The employer can refuse the employee’s request for leave in blocks if requested in this manner.
Example B
(a) Period of Leave Notice 1
Start date for SPL End date for SPL
20 January 2020 9 March 2020
Notice to employer:
Please treat this as binding notice to take Shared Parental Leave on the dates specified above.

(b) Period of Leave Notice 2
Start date for SPL End date for SPL
4 May 2020 25 May 2020
Notice to employer:
Please treat this as binding notice to take Shared Parental Leave on the dates specified above.

(c) Period of Leave Notice 3
Start date for SPL End date for SPL
13 July 2020 14 Sept 2020
Notice to employer:
Please treat this as binding notice to take Shared Parental Leave on the dates specified above.

Example C

Here is an example of three separate booking notices: You will notice the blocks of leave are exactly the same as those requested in Example B. However, the request is made in three separate notices. By requesting leave in three separate notices, the employer cannot refuse the employee’s request for leave in blocks.

Booking Notice 1 / Period of Leave Notice 1
Start date for SPL End date for SPL
20 January 2020 9 March 2020
Notice to employer:
Please treat this as binding notice to take Shared Parental Leave on the dates specified above.

Booking Notice 2 / Period of Leave Notice 2
Start date for SPL End date for SPL
4 May 2020 25 May 2020
Notice to employer:
Please treat this as binding notice to take Shared Parental Leave on the dates specified above.

Booking Notice 3 / Period of Leave Notice 3
Start date for SPL End date for SPL
13 July 2020 14 Sept 2020
Notice to employer:
Please treat this as binding notice to take Shared Parental Leave on the dates specified above.

If you are certain of the dates you want to take, it would make most sense to submit three separate booking notices, one for each block of leave, to your employer as per Example C. This way your employer cannot refuse your request. The disadvantage is that if you later want to change your leave dates, you will not be able to as you will have used your total allocation of booking / variation notices.

Requesting your leave in separate blocks

What happens after I have made my request?

If you make a request for leave using Example A or Example C, your employer cannot refuse your request. An employee is not entitled to withdraw a notice for a single continuous block of leave, but may do so if the employer agrees to the withdrawal.

If you want to make a change to your request in Example A, you can serve a variation notice to change your leave dates. You will then have served one booking notice and one variation notice. You will therefore have used two of your three permitted notices. Alternatively, if you are happy with the dates but want to take more leave after the end of your booked leave period, you would need to serve another booking notice.

If you have opted to use three booking notices as in Example C, you will not be able to change your leave dates using a variation notice or book further periods of leave (unless of course your employer agrees that they are agreeable to you to doing this). This is because you will have used all three notices you are permitted under the statutory scheme.
If you have opted to book your leave as per Example B, then your employer has two weeks to consider your request for blocks of leave. The aim of this period is for you and your employer to come to an agreement on your SPL. Within this decision period, your employer may either:

• Consent to you taking the leave;
• Propose alternative dates for the periods of leave;
• Not respond; or
• Refuse your request.

If your booking notice is refused, it does not count towards the standard limit of three notices.

Can I take more than three blocks of leave?
Yes – you and your employer can agree for you to have more than three periods or blocks of leave if that works for both of you but it is not something you can insist upon. You could only do this with the agreement of your employer and they are able to refuse your request.

What if your employer does not accept your request in Example B?
If you make a request for separate periods of leave, as in Example B above, which is not accepted by your employer within the two week decision period then you may choose to add up the overall amount of leave you had requested and notify your employer that you intend to take it all as one continuous period of leave. You must notify your employer of your intention to do this within five days after the expiry of the two week decision period following your initial request (this is 19 days from your booking notice).
You may also notify your employer of a different start date for the continuous period of leave provided that it is at least eight weeks after the original booking notice was given.
If you do not wish to take a continuous period of leave, you may wish to consider withdrawing your request for leave. If you do this, your booking notice will not count towards your standard limit of three notices. You can then serve up to 3 separate notices as per Example C
If you do not withdraw your request or notify your employer with a different date for your continuous period of leave to begin on, a continuous period of leave will automatically start on the date on which your first period leave was intended to start.

What if I want to change the dates of my leave that I originally requested in Example B?
If you are still within the two week decision period following your booking notice, and your employer has not accepted your request, you should withdraw your request and submit a new one. This withdrawn request won’t count towards your cap of three notices. You then need to submit a new booking notice giving the 8 weeks notice required.
If you wish to change your previously requested dates of leave after these two weeks, you must submit a ‘variation notice’ in writing to your employer. This will count towards your cap of notices. You will have used one booking notice and one variation notice so you would only have one notice left.
Similarly to a booking notice, your employer has a two week period in which they may decide whether to accept, propose alternative dates or decline your variation notice.
Variation notices count towards the standard limit of three booking notices, except when they are made in the following circumstances:
• In response to your employer who has proposed alternative dates;
• In the case of a birth parent, as a result of your child being born earlier or later than your expected week of childbirth (EWC); or
• In the case of an adoptive parent, as a result of your child being placed for adoption earlier or later than the date expected.

 

If you need more information on notice and booking SPL, see the GOV site or the ACAS website.

This advice applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you live in another part of the UK the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details.

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