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Shared Parental Leave: what you need to know

New laws mean that if you're due to give birth on or after 5 April, you and your partner are entitled to split time off from work to care for your baby during the first year

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After the initial two weeks of statutory maternity leave and allowance for the mother, and paid paternity leave for the father, parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay between them.

You can choose to take time off simultaneously, if you wish, or to split the time between you in any proportion. Once you've decided how to divide the leave, you'll need to agree it with your respective employers in advance.

This also applies to couples adopting children on or after 5 April, and replaces Additional Paternity Leave - which was previously available to fathers, or the mother's or adopter's partner.

More information can be found on the gov.uk website, including info for employers.


Who's eligible?

To qualify for Shared Parental Leave, parents must have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks by the beginning of the 15th week before the baby's due date. For adopters, the 26 weeks' work counts until the time when an adopter was notified of having been matched with a child or adoption.

Both parents must remain employed up until and including the first week that Shared Parental Leave is to be taken.

If one parent is self-employed or works freelance, they will not be able to take Shared Parental Leave - but if their partner qualifies, and they have worked for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to the due date (and have earned above the maternity allowance threshold of £30 a week in 13 of those 66 weeks), the other parent will be entitled to Shared Parental Leave from their employer.


And what about pay?

Statutory Shared Parental Pay will be paid at £139.58 per week - or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. This can be claimed instead of maternity pay if a woman doesn't use her full entitlement.

If parents qualify for Shared Parental Leave, they will also be entitled to Shared Parental Pay so long as they've earned an average salary which meets the lower earnings limit of £111 for eight weeks prior to the 15th week before the expected due date or adoption date.



Inform your employer sooner rather than later

At least eight weeks before you plan to take Shared Parental Leave, you must give your employer a notice of entitlement to take it. This letter must say:

  • how much leave is available
  • how much leave you are entitled to take
  • how much leave you are intending to take
  • how you expect to take it

Each eligible parent can give their employer up to three separate notices booking or varying leave, either for a continuous block of leave, or several shorter periods.

An employer is obliged to agree to the former, but may refuse the latter and request that leave be taken as one block - so it's arguably better, if you're able, to have an informal discussion to come to an agreement before this stage.

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Last updated: about 2 years ago