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Shared parental leave: a guide for both employers and employees

Stephen Hunt - Law on the Web

  1. 09 April 2015
  2. Employment
  3. 0 comments
Proud parents with their baby

Shared Parental Leave has recently been brought in to give new parents greater flexibility in how they take time off work to raise their newborn child. In this blog post we give you the lowdown on this new type of leave.

What is Shared Parental Leave?

If a couple has a baby due on or after April 2015 or adopts a child on or after this date, then they may be entitled to what is known as Shared Parental Leave (SPL). While receiving SPL a parent can receive Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP).

Eligible parents can begin SPL if the mother or adopter ends their maternity or adoption leave early. The remaining leave can then be shared among the parents as they wish.

For example, a mother who ends her maternity leave after 26 weeks (of the 52 week entitlement) can share the remaining 26 weeks with her partner, e.g. 13 weeks each. The leave does not have to be shared equally, however – one parent could take 16 weeks and the other 10, for example.

Parents taking SPL are entitled take it in blocks – they have a right to split it into at most three blocks, although employers are free to allow it to be divided further.

Who is eligible for Shared Parental Leave?

SPL can only be shared if both parents are eligible. If only one parent is eligible, however, they can still use SPL to divide their leave into blocks.

For a parent to be eligible for SPL they must share care of the child with any of:

  • Their husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter
  • The child’s other parent
  • Their partner, if the parent and child lives with them

The parent who will be sharing their maternity or adoption leave must also have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby’s due date. They must remain employed by the same employer for the duration of their SPL.

The other parent must have been working for 26 of the 66 weeks leading up to the due date or date of adoption. They must have earned at least £30 for 13 of those 66 weeks.

How much pay is received during Shared Parental Leave?

Those receiving ShPP will either receive £138.18 a week or 90% of their average weekly earnings – whichever is lower. This is same as all but the first six weeks of statutory maternity pay, when it is paid at 90% of earnings with no limit.

How to start Shared Parental Leave

The mother of the child or her partner can only start Shared Parental Leave once the child has been born or adopted. The mother or adopter must have:

  • Ended maternity or adoption leave by returning to work
  • Given ‘binding notice’ to their employer of when they intend to end their maternity or adoption leave

Partners can still start their shared paternity leave if the mother or adopter is still on maternity or adoption leave, as long as they have given notice to their employer.

More information on taking leave for raising a child can be found in our Employment Law section.

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