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Shared Parental Leave

Where a child is born to a surrogate mother, the intended parents can become the child’s legal parents by applying for a parental order. One of the intended parents must be genetically related to the child and the child must live with the intended parents.

Where a couple has a parental order in relation to a child, or is applying for one, one of the parents can be eligible for adoption leave and pay and the other can be eligible for paternity leave and pay. The couple must elect which of them will take adoption leave. An employee who takes adoption leave in these circumstances can curtail his or her adoption leave and take SPL with the other parent, provided that the parents both meet the relevant eligibility requirements.

Adoption leave, paternity leave and SPL are available to employees who are, or expect to be, the parents of a child under a parental order, where the child’s expected week of birth begins on or after 5 April 2015.

You should notify your line manager that you want to take SPL by completing the eligibility form.

If you are the mother/primary adopter of the child, this will include giving notice of your intention to curtail your maternity/adoption leave.

If your partner is the mother/primary adopter of the child, you will need to confirm that they have given notice to curtail their maternity/adoption leave.

Once your eligibility to take SPL has been confirmed, you and your partner should discuss your leave patterns.

You and your partner may choose to take SPL at the same time or at different times, as long as the total leave does not exceed what is jointly available to you.

You may choose to take continuous leave, which is a block of leave with one start and end date, or discontinuous leave which is a leave pattern where you return to work between two or more periods of SPL.

For example, if you give notice of your intention to end your maternity/adoption, you can convert the remaining leave into SPL which is shared between yourself and your partner.

Your partner could then choose to take a period of SPL during your maternity leave or after you have returned to work. You could also choose to alternate periods of SPL with periods of work so that when you are at work your partner is on leave and vice versa.

There are a number of requirements. There is a two-stage test for eligibility for SPL. 

You must be eligible in your own right and your partner must also meet certain eligibility requirements. 

As the mother/primary adopter, in order to take SPL you must be entitled to statutory maternity/adoption, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance.

You must:

  • Have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service with the Authority ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth or the week of notification of matching for adoption.
  • Be in continuous employment with the Authority until the week before any period of SPL.
  • Have the main responsibility (apart from your partner) for care of the child.
  • Comply with the relevant maternity/adoption curtailment requirements (which end your maternity/adoption leave) or have returned to work before the end of statutory maternity/adoption leave.
  • Provide the SPL notice and evidence requirements.

Your partner must:

  • Have at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment (or be in self employment) ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth or the week of notification of matching for adoption.
  • Be in continuous employment until the week before any period of SPL.
  • Have worked in employment or self employment for 26 weeks of the 66 weeks before the expected week of childbirth or the week of notification of matching for adoption and have had average weekly earnings of at least £30 during 13 of those weeks.
  • At the date of the child’s birth or the week of notification of matching for adoption, have the main responsibility (apart from the mother/primary adopter) for care of the child.
  • Comply with the relevant SPL notice and evidence requirements.

Find the Sunday before your baby is due (or the due date if it is a Sunday) and count back 15 Sundays from there. That is the start of the 15th week before your expected week of childbirth or the week of notification of matching for adoption.

For pregnant mothers you should use the due date on the MAT B1 certificate which your midwife or GP will give you when you are about 20 weeks pregnant.

Yes, an employee can be eligible to take SPL if his or her partner is self-employed, as long as the partner meets the relevant requirements relating to employment and earnings.

The employee's partner must have:

  • been engaged in employment either as an employed or self-employed earner for any part of the week in at least 26 of the 66 weeks immediately before the expected week of birth (or the week of notification of matching for adoption); and
  • average weekly earnings of at least £30 in any 13 of those 66 weeks.

For example, if the father of a child, or the mother's/primary adopter’s partner, is self-employed and meets the employment and earnings test, the mother/primary adopter can take SPL provided they meet the eligibility requirements.

While the mother/primary adopter will not be able to share the leave with their partner if he or she is not an employee, the mother/primary adopter may choose to curtail their maternity/adoption leave and take SPL instead, so that they can take their leave in a more flexible way, i.e. in more than one block.

Yes, eligible employees can still take one or two weeks' ordinary paternity leave within the first 56 days following the child's birth. This is not affected by the introduction of SPL. However, reg.4 of the Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2112) provides that an employee cannot take ordinary paternity leave if he or she has already taken a period of SPL in relation to the same child.

Therefore, an employee can choose to take both ordinary paternity leave and SPL, but the period of ordinary paternity leave must come first.

You can share up to 50 weeks. You must take the first two weeks after birth/placement of the child as compulsory maternity/adoption leave.

For example, you must take the first 2 weeks following the birth/placement and if you decided to take 18 weeks maternity/adoption leave out of your 52 week entitlement, the remaining 34 weeks could be converted in to SPL. This leave can then be divided between yourself and your partner.

Yes except for the first two weeks of maternity/adoption leave after birth/placement of the child, which are compulsory for the mother/primary adopter. Your partner may be eligible for Paternity Leave at that time.

The amount of SPL that the parents can share is 52 weeks, minus the amount of maternity leave taken by the mother, or adoption leave taken by the primary adopter.

All leave must be taken before the child's first birthday, or before the first anniversary of the day on which the child was placed for adoption.

For example, the mother/primary adopter could take two weeks' compulsory maternity/adoption leave followed by 40 weeks' SPL. This would leave 10 weeks' SPL for the father (or the mother's/primary adopter’s partner) to take at any time before the child's first birthday, either at the same time as the mother/primary adopter or when s/he has returned to work.

Yes, if the mother/primary adopter has provided her employer with a maternity/adoption leave curtailment notice, and all the relevant eligibility criteria and notice requirements are satisfied, the mother's /primary adopter’s partner can begin a period of SPL while the mother/primary adopter is still on maternity/adoption leave.

For example, the mother/primary adopter could submit a leave curtailment notice stating that her maternity/adoption leave will end three months from the date of the notice. The mother's/primary adopter’s partner can take SPL (with at least eight weeks' notice) at any time after the mother/primary adopter has submitted their leave curtailment notice; he or she does not have to wait until those three months have passed.

Yes. An employee can take SPL with his or her spouse, civil partner or partner. Partner is defined as someone (whether of a different sex or the same sex) who lives with the employee in an enduring family relationship (but who is not the child’s, parent, grandchild, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew).

You must give us at least eight weeks' notice to take a period of SPL.

There are a number of different notices that you must give before you can take SPL.

Before either parent can take SPL, the mother/primary adopter must give their employer a leave curtailment notice, setting out the date on which they intend to bring their maternity/adoption leave to an end. This must be given no less than eight weeks before the start of the first period of SPL taken by either of the parents.

At the same time as the mother /primary adopter gives the leave curtailment notice they must give their employer:

  • a notice of entitlement and intention to take SPL, providing the employer with information including how much SPL the parents each intend to take and an indication as to when the mother intends to take leave (which is non-binding); or
  • a declaration stating that their partner has given their employer a notice of entitlement and intention to take SPL and that they consents to their partner taking that amount of leave.

The employee, whether the mother/primary adopter or their partner, must give their employer a notice of entitlement and intention to take SPL not less than eight weeks before the start of their first period of SPL.

In addition, no less than eight weeks before each period of SPL, the employee taking the leave must give their employer a period of leave notice, setting out the start and end dates of the period or periods of leave requested.

When you request SPL, you can ask for a continuous block or discontinuous periods of no less than one week. However, we can refuse a request for discontinuous leave, in which case you will be entitled to a continuous period of SPL.

If you meet the qualifying criteria and all other requirements, including the notice and evidence requirements, if you apply for a continuous period of SPL, this will be agreed. If you apply for discontinuous periods of SPL, your request may be refused. Please refer to the previous question.

Each case will be considered on its merits. The needs of the business will be a key determinant.

When we receive a notice from you that you intend to take SPL, we can request a copy of the child's birth certificate/matching certificate and the name and address of your partner's employer. You must provide this within 14 days of the request.

If we request a copy of the birth certificate before the child has been born, you must provide this within 14 days of the birth.

This information will not be enough for us to be able to confirm that you are entitled to SPL. However, in most cases, we will rely on the declarations provided by you and your partner that you meet the various eligibility requirements. We are not expected to check, for example, the earnings and employment history of your partner.

We can contact your partner’s employer, to check whether or not your partner is entitled to SPL, your partner's employer would not be able to provide information on its employee without his or her consent.

You should be aware that providing a false declaration that you are entitled to SPL and/or pay will be treated as a disciplinary issue.

You can submit up to three SPL notices, giving no less than 8 weeks’ notice.

You can cancel or vary a notice giving no less than 8 weeks’ notice in writing. This amendment will count as one of the three SPL notices.

If eligible for SPL you can request to take discontinuous periods of leave, i.e., you can take a period of SPL, then return to work, then take a further period of SPL.

SPL must be taken in blocks of at least one week. All leave must be taken before the child's first birthday, or before the first anniversary of the adoption placement.

When you request a period of leave notice, you can request either a single block of leave or discontinuous periods of leave. If you request discontinuous leave, we can refuse the request and require you to withdraw the request or take the leave in a continuous block. However, if you request a continuous period of leave, we must agree to it.

You can submit up to three separate leave notices. Therefore, you can take three separate blocks of leave, provided that you give us a separate notice of each period of leave, at least eight weeks before it starts.

Yes, you can change your mind about when you intend to take SPL at various stages in the procedure.

You can vary or cancel your proposed SPL dates after submitting a notice of entitlement and intention, which gives an indication of the leave pattern that you intend to take but is non-binding until you provide a period of leave notice in relation to the particular period of leave. There is no limit on the number of variations of notice of entitlement and intention that you can make.

Once you have submitted a period of leave notice, you can vary or cancel the SPL dates by providing us with at least eight weeks' written notice. You can submit a maximum of three separate periods of leave notices and a variation notice counts towards this total.

Where you have submitted a period of leave notice requesting discontinuous leave and we have refused the request or no agreement has been reached within a two-week period as to when the leave will be taken, you may withdraw the period of leave notice. A notice for discontinuous leave that has been withdrawn before it is agreed does not count towards the maximum of three requests for leave that you can make.

Therefore, if you submit a request for a discontinuous period of leave, having planned a leave pattern with your partner, if you have to change your plans because your partner's employer does not agree to the leave pattern, you will be able either to withdraw the notice and submit an amended request, or, if we have already agreed to the request, submit a variation notice, provided that you have not already submitted the maximum three leave or variation notices.

If you submit three separate leave notices requesting three separate periods of SPL, i.e., one period of continuous leave per notice, we cannot refuse the requests. We must allow you to take a period of leave on the dates requested where the period of leave notice requests one continuous period of leave and the notice has been given at least eight weeks before the leave is due to start.

You can submit a maximum of three separate ‘period of leave notices’.

However, if you submit one period of leave notice requesting discontinuous leave over three periods, e.g., two weeks' leave beginning on 1 May, four weeks' leave beginning on 1 July and two weeks' leave beginning on 1 November, we can refuse your request.

Yes, up to 37 weeks' statutory shared parental pay is available for parents to share between them while on SPL.

The mother /primary adopter of a child can choose to curtail their maternity/adoption leave and statutory maternity pay (SMP)/statutory adoption pay (SAP) and take SPL and statutory shared parental pay with their partner, or the child's father. The amount of statutory shared parental pay that is available for the parents to share is 39 weeks, minus the amount of SMP/SAP or maternity allowance taken by the mother/primary adopter. The mother/primary adopter cannot curtail their maternity/adoption leave and pay until the end of the compulsory maternity/adoption leave period (two weeks), so the maximum amount of shared parental pay available is 37 weeks.

For example, if a mother takes maternity leave for 30 weeks, then the father takes a period of SPL of 12 weeks, then the mother takes a period of SPL of 10 weeks; the mother would be paid statutory maternity pay for 30 weeks and the partner would be paid statutory shared parental pay for the first nine weeks of his leave period (provided that they meet all the relevant eligibility requirements).

Statutory shared parental pay will be paid at a flat rate (currently £151.20, or 90% of the employee's normal earnings if this is less). Unlike SMP/SAP, there is no provision for employees to be paid 90% of their earnings for the first six weeks of their statutory shared parental pay period where this is higher than the statutory rate. Therefore, if an employee who is receiving SMP/SAP at the higher rate of 90% of her earnings switches to statutory shared parental pay within the first six weeks of her SMP/SAP period, they will move to the lower rate immediately.

An employee (whether the mother/primary adopter of a child, the mother’s/primary adopter’s partner or the child’s father) will qualify for statutory shared parental pay if they:

  • Have at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth or the week of notification of matching for adoption
  • Remain in continuous employment with that employer until the week before the first week that shared parental pay is payable
  • Have normal weekly earnings of at least the lower earnings limit for national insurance contribution purposes for a period of eight weeks ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth or the week of notification of matching for adoption
  • Have the main responsibility (apart from the responsibility of the other parent) for the care of the child at the date of birth or the week of notification of matching for adoption
  • Has complied with the relevant notice and evidence requirements

Further, for the mother/primary adopter of a child to qualify for statutory shared parental pay:

  • S/he must be entitled to statutory maternity/adoption pay in relation to the child and have reduced the maternity/adoption pay period.

The partner, or the child’s father, must have:

  • Been employed or self-employed during at least 26 of the 66 weeks before the expected week of childbirth or the week of notification of matching for adoption
  • Average weekly earnings of at least £30 for any 13 of those 66 weeks
  • The main responsibility for the child (apart from the responsibility of the mother/primary adopter) at the date of the birth or the week of notification of matching for adoption

For the mother's/primary adopter’s partner, or the child's father, to qualify for statutory shared parental pay, the child's mother /primary adopter must:

  • Have been employed or self-employed during at least 26 of the 66 weeks before the expected week of childbirth or the week of notification of matching for adoption
  • Have average weekly earnings of at least £30 for any 13 of those 66 weeks
  • Be entitled to statutory maternity/adoption pay or maternity/adoption allowance in relation to the child and have reduced the pay period
  • Have the main responsibility for the child (apart from the responsibility of the partner or father) at the date of the birth/placement

There are no rules as to how entitlement to statutory shared parental pay should be divided between parents. This is for agreement between the parents.

The total amount of statutory shared parental pay available for eligible parents to share is 39 weeks, minus the amount of statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance paid to the mother (or minus the amount of statutory adoption pay paid to the primary adopter). Parents can be on SPL at the same time as each other and can receive statutory shared parental pay at the same time.

The parents are required to notify their employers of how much shared parental pay they are entitled to and how they will split it between them.

No, SPL must be taken in blocks of at least one week at a time. Therefore, you could not take SPL in blocks of one or two days to reduce your working hours.

However, each parent can agree with his or her employer to use up to 20 "shared-parental-leave-in-touch" (SPLIT) days to carry out work without bringing a period of SPL to an end. If the employee and employer agree, SPLIT days can be used to enable the employee to attend work on a regular basis during a period of SPL. For example, the employee could take SPL for 10 weeks and use two SPLIT days each week to attend work.

Working a SPLIT day will not affect your entitlement to statutory shared parental pay. We will pay you your full contractual pay for the day, offsetting any entitlement to statutory pay.

If you take SPL with your partner, it is your partner’s employer who is responsible for paying them.

An employee does not have a right to transfer entitlement to enhanced pay to his or her partner. For example, if a mother works for an organisation that pays enhanced contractual pay to employees on SPL and she takes SPL with the child's father, who works for an organisation that does not enhance shared parental pay, the mother will be paid by her employer in accordance with its policy, but the father will not receive enhanced pay for any period of SPL that he takes. If the father is entitled to statutory shared parental pay for any period of SPL (i.e. if the shared entitlement to statutory pay is not being used up by the mother), this will be paid by his employer.

Yes, however, additional paternity leave has been discontinued from 5 April 2015.

Yes, between us we can agree up to 20 "shared-parental-leave-in-touch" (SPLIT) days during SPL without bringing the leave to an end. These can be used either to undertake work or, for instance, to attend meetings, team events or training. Both parents have up to 20 SPLIT days each, which can be taken as single days or in blocks of days. This is in addition to the 10 keeping-in-touch days available to the mother or primary adopter during maternity leave or adoption leave.

You have the right to return to the same job after taking a period of SPL if the period of leave, when added to any period of statutory maternity, paternity or adoption leave taken by you in relation to the same child, is 26 weeks or less.

In these circumstances, you have the right to return to the job in which you were employed immediately before the absence (the job must be the same in terms of the nature of the work, the capacity in which he or she is employed and the place of work).

You are entitled to no less favourable terms and conditions, with seniority, pension rights and similar rights as if you had not been absent.

If your absence following a period of SPL:

  • totals more than 26 weeks when added to any period of statutory maternity, paternity or adoption leave taken by you in relation to the same child; or
  • was the last of two or more consecutive periods of statutory leave that included a period of ordinary parental leave of more than four weeks, a period of additional maternity leave or a period of additional adoption leave.

You have the right to return to the same job unless it is not reasonably practicable for us to permit this, in which case you have the right to return to another job that is both suitable for you and  appropriate for you to do in the circumstances.

Yes, provided that their partner meets the earnings and employment requirements, a mother/primary adopter can curtail their maternity/adoption leave and take SPL instead. There is no requirement for the partner to take a period of SPL.

A mother/primary adopter might choose to do this so that they can take leave in a more flexible way than would be possible if they remained on maternity/adoption leave. For example, they may want to take three separate periods of SPL, interspersed with periods back at work.

You will continue to accrue annual leave during your SPL. You are encouraged to agree with your line manager when you intend to take your annual leave before the start of your SPL and may take your leave before, after or between periods of SPL.

If a block of SPL crosses two leave years you may carry over annual leave accrued in the first leave year but must use these days within three months following the end of your SPL.

Both parents can be back at work at the same time and still retain the right to SPL.

SPL is aimed at giving parents more flexibility over how they share childcare between them during the first year of their child's life. The leave does not have to be taken in one continuous block; one or both parents can return to work and then take a further period of SPL, provided that they comply with the notice requirements. The parents could decide to arrange alternative childcare and both return to work for a period at the same time.

Yes, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements and give the correct notice, you can choose when to take SPL. This means that an employee who works in a school and who would not be required to attend work during school holidays could take periods of SPL during term time only, leaving more leave available for his or her partner to take. The parents can share up to 50 weeks' SPL between them during the first year after the child's birth or placement for adoption and can take leave at the same time as each other.

No, there are no changes to ordinary unpaid parental leave as a result of the introduction of SPL.

However, from 5 April 2015, under provisions separate from those introducing SPL, the time limit for taking ordinary parental leave is increased to the child's 18th birthday in all cases.

All eligible employees can take up to 18 weeks' ordinary parental leave in relation to a child at any time before his or her 18th birthday.

Ordinary parental leave is unpaid. Entitlement to ordinary parental leave is not affected by whether or not employees decide to take SPL.

The death of an employee's partner does not prevent the employee being eligible to take SPL, as long as the couple met the eligibility requirements immediately before the partner's death.

In the case of the death of the child's mother/primary adopter, there is no requirement for the mother/primary adopter to have given notice curtailing their maternity/adoption leave or a "notice of entitlement and intention" before she died for her partner, or the child's father, to be eligible to take SPL. The partner can submit a notice of entitlement and intention to take SPL following the mother's/primary adopter’s death, if they have not already done so. This notice must include the date of the mother's/primary adopter’s death. If the mother/primary adopter had not taken any maternity leave prior to their death, their partner can take up to 52 weeks' SPL.

An employee (whether the mother/primary adopter or the mother's partner) may wish to change their plans in relation to the amount and pattern of SPL that they intend to take following the death of their partner. For example, they may decide to take a period of leave earlier than planned or to take one long period of leave rather than multiple shorter periods. The rules on notice and variation of periods of leave are adjusted to allow this. The employee is not required to give eight weeks' notice of a period of leave if this is not reasonably practicable, but must give the relevant notice as soon as is reasonably practicable after the death and before the period of leave. This adjustment to the notice requirements applies in relation to the notice of entitlement and intention, to the first period of leave notice following the death and to the first notice to vary a period of leave that has already been booked.

If the employee has already used his or her maximum of three periods of leave or variation notices prior to the partner's death, the limit is extended to four notices, so that they can vary the agreed pattern of leave in light of their new circumstances.

The right of the employer to request a copy of the child's birth certificate and details of the employee's partner's employer no longer applies if the partner dies; neither does any requirement for the employee to include a declaration from his or her partner with any notice that he or she submits.

Equivalent provisions apply in relation to the death of an adoptive parent.

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Page updated: 26/03/2018 09:28:38