How does shared parental leave work?

Firstly, this is not to be confused with Parental Leave! See our content on the different types of statutory leave to explain the differences. 

Shared parental leave enables mothers or adoptive parents to commit to ending their maternity or adoption leave and pay early in order to share the untaken balance as shared parental leave and pay with their partner. Mothers must take at least the first 2 weeks of their maternity leave, or 4 weeks if they work in a factory, and so this leaves the balance of up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay to share.

What about adoptive parents?

In the case of adoptive parents, the parent claiming Statutory Adoption Pay is also required to take at least the first 2 weeks.

When should shared parental leave and pay be used and what makes parents eligible?

The leave and pay must be used in the first year after the child is born, or placed with the family  

To be eligible for Shared Parental Leave and pay, you must meet certain criteria:

  1. Firstly, both parents must share responsibility for the child on the date of birth or placement.  You’re not eligible if you started sharing responsibility for the child after this time. 
  2. Secondly, there are certain work and pay criteria that the parents must meet and these differ between birth and adoptive parents.  Get in touch if you need further details on the exact criteria, but in short they relate to the earnings and length of service of the parents. 

In terms of the pay employees receive during Shared Parental Leave, there are statutory rates that apply. 

Binding notice must be given before starting shared parental leave

In order for Shared Parental Leave to start, an employee must first give binding notice that they would like to end their maternity or adoption leave. Once this is done, each eligible parent can then book up to 3 separate blocks of Shared Parental Leave. They can take their leave at the same time as each other if they wish and they can also return to work in between blocks 

For example, an employee on maternity or adoption leave could end their leave in October and take the whole month of November as Shared Parental Leave at the same time as their partner. This would be their first block of Shared Parental Leave. They might then return to work in December but then take the month of February as Shared Parental Leave, which would then be their second block. This would be acceptable so long as all of the leave happens in the first year and the required notice has been given to the employer 

Employees must give at least 8 weeks’ written notice of their leave dates and any changes to them. Please also note that a mother or adoptive parent does not have to share their leave with anyone else. 

Employees can end their maternity or adoption leave and retain the right take a further period of Shared Parental Leave at a later date, subject to the already mentioned notice and eligibility requirements.

It can be tricky to plan this type of leave with so many different factors to consider to please do contact us below if you need any help: