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Shared parental leave – sharing leave with a partner or splitting up leave

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) is a right for parents which may allow you to:

  • Share leave with a partner, and/or
  • Split up periods of leave.

How much and when?

Parents can take up to a maximum of 50 weeks as SPL, and a maximum of 37 weeks of Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). You can take SPL at a different time from your partner/other parent, or at the same time. For example, a woman can be on maternity leave and her partner can be on shared parental leave at the same time.

Who can take it?

Your family might be able to use SPL if you are expecting a baby with your partner, or you’re expecting a child to be placed for adoption with you and your partner, and at least one of you is employed. The rights apply to mothers and fathers, married couples, civil partners and cohabiting partners, same or opposite sex. The rules don’t currently apply to grandparents, but the government has said it will extend the right to working grandparents in the future.

What about pay?

If you meet the conditions and you also earn at least at least the lower earnings limit, you will be entitled to Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). This is 90% of your average earnings, or £145.18  whichever is lower. The mother or adopter must be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay or Maternity Allowance and must end her/his Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay or Maternity Allowance pay period in order to create entitlement to ShPP for themselves or another person. This is called ‘curtailment’, and is a formal process requiring notice to the employer or to Jobcentre Plus.

The total amount of paid leave available to a family doesn’t change.  Eligible fathers/partners may take 2 weeks as paternity leave.  A mother must take at least 2 weeks of compulsory leave when the baby is born.    Thereafter the outstanding SMP, SAP or MA can be taken as ShPP instead – but all ShPP is paid at the flat rate (unlike SMP which is paid at 90% of average pay for the first six weeks).

What is happening to maternity leave?

Maternity leave remains the same as before. An employed woman still has the right to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave, and it is up to her whether she wishes to swap that for SPL taken by her, and/or a partner, if she wishes. She must take at least 2 weeks’ maternity leave after the birth.

Who is entitled to SPL?

You can quickly check if you and/or your partner are entitled to SPL by using the government’s calculator. This looks at paternity leave and maternity leave as well, so it will give you an overall picture of your options as a family. If you need to understand the rules in more detail, you can read our information below.

  1. There must be two people involved for SPL to apply

There must be a partner or other parent – you are not entitled to SPL otherwise. This person could be the father, mother, the person taking adoption leave, a married partner or civil partner , or a partner who lives with the mother/adopter and the child in an ongoing family relationship.

You can’t take SPL as a relative – for example, if your daughter is having a baby, SPL wouldn’t apply to you.

  1. There are conditions for the person taking SPL, and the other parent/partner

Both parents have to meet conditions about their employment and earnings. Self-employed parents or people who have recently started jobs won’t be able to take Shared Parental Leave or get Shared Parental Pay, but their partners might be able to.

You can split up to 50 weeks of shared parental leave between you, if you both meet the conditions. Or if only one of you is entitled, you can decide how much time to take as SPL.

The parent taking the shared parental leave must:

  • Have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due (or by the date you are matched with your adopted child) and
  • Still be working for the employer right up to when they take SPL
  • And will get ShPP if they earn at least the lower earnings limit on average in a set period before the due date or matching for adoption, and any SMP/MA/SAP has been curtailed.

If you are the mother or main adopter, you’ll need to give notice that you will end your maternity leave/adoption leave early (leaving you or your partner/other parent with some SPL to take at a later date). You can do this by returning to work (you would need to give notice to do this) , but to enable ShPP to be payable, you must ‘curtail’ your maternity pay/adoption pay or Maternity Allowance by giving formal notice to your employer or Jobcentre Plus. You can do this before the birth if you wish, stating when you want it to finish. The earliest SPL/ShPP can start is 2 weeks after the birth or adoption.

The other parent/partner must meet a looser test (the employment and earnings test) of:

  • Having worked for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before the expected week of birth or the week you are notified of being matched for adoption, and
  • Having average weekly earnings of at least £30 a week for 13 of those weeks.

The other person could be employed or self-employed, and could have changed jobs or not worked for the same employer for the whole of the pregnancy.

This parent/partner may not be able to take SPL themselves, but they need to meet these looser employment and earnings conditions for you to take SPL. If the other parent is the mother/main adopter, they will need to curtail their SMP/SAP/MA to create entitlement to SPL and/or ShPP.

You can find information about how to give notice of entitlement and notice to book SPL here, and there is more information on this specific shared parental leave website the ACAS website and the GOV 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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