You may be eligible for shared parental leave (SPL) for up to 50 weeks and pay (ShPP) for up to 37 weeks if you:
• have main responsibility for the care of your child with the other parent/partner;
• have at least 26 weeks’ employment at the 15th week before the baby’s expected week of childbirth (EWC) OR your adoption match date;
• have average earnings at or above the lower earnings limit in the 8 weeks before the 15th week before the EWC OR your adoption match date;
• are still employed until the week before any period of shared parental leave is taken;
• have a partner who has at least 26 weeks’ employment (with us or another company) or self-employment during the 66 weeks before the EWC OR your adoption match date (the weeks don’t have to be in a row) with average weekly earnings of at least £30 during 13 of those weeks.
If you are having your child by way of a surrogacy arrangement, you must have obtained a parental order in order to ask for SPL or ShPP.
Remember: For either parent to get SPL, the birth parent or primary adopter must either end their maternity or adoption leave and return to work OR give their employer notice to end (‘curtail’) their maternity or adoption leave early.
If eligible, there are many ways that you could use SPL, e.g.
• the birth parent or primary adopter returns to work early from maternity or adoption leave and takes SPL at a later date;
• the birth parent or primary adopter returns to work and their partner takes SPL;
• both parents are off at the same time; or
• the parents share SPL evenly and are off at different times.
The available shared parental leave is calculated by deducting the number of weeks’ maternity leave the mother has taken OR deducting the number of weeks’ adoption leave the primary adopter has taken on their return to work (or leave end date) from the full 50-week entitlement.
The leave must be taken in blocks of at least 1 week but doesn’t have to be taken as a single period and must be taken before your child’s 1st birthday. Each eligible parent has up to three times to either:
• book a block of SPL (‘notice to take leave’); or
• change the dates of booked SPL (‘notice to vary leave’).
You must give 8 weeks’ notice each time you want to book a block of SPL, but it can start on any day, for example if the first day of a week’s leave is Tuesday, the last day of leave would be the next Monday. In addition, you must give 8 weeks’ notice if you want to change or cancel SPL. The exception to this is if your child is born more than 8 weeks’ prematurely. In these circumstances you need to let your manager know as soon as possible and if you change your SPL dates this will not count as one of your 3 permitted times to book SPL.
There are two ways to take SPL:
Continuous leave – where you can book up to three blocks of SPL. If you request continuous leave, this cannot be refused.
Discontinuous leave – where you book a pattern of leave periods, e.g. to allow you to alternate childcare responsibilities with your partner. If you request discontinuous leave this can be refused if the business cannot accommodate the request. Your Line Manager has 14 days to consider your request and if unable to approve will talk to you about it and suggest alternative arrangements. If you cannot agree your original request/an alternative, you will be able to withdraw your request or take continuous leave instead (it cannot start sooner than 8 weeks from the date of the original leave request). If you withdraw your request it will not count in these circumstances it will not count as one of your 3 permitted times to book SPL.
Shared parental leave is in addition to the right to paternity leave and ‘ordinary’ parental leave. However, statutory paternity leave must be used by the father/partner before taking any shared parental leave, or they will lose the entitlement.
There is no increase in shared parental leave entitlement in the case of multiple births (in the same way that maternity, paternity and adoption entitlements do not increase).
There is one type of pay during shared parental leave – Statutory shared Parental Pay. To be eligible for this you and your partner must meet the criteria in 1.1 above. ShPP is paid for a maximum of 37 weeks at 90% of normal weekly earnings or the lower statutory rate2 (whichever is the lower). SPL taken over and above 37 weeks will be unpaid.
We recognise that things do not always go to plan. Sadly, in some cases, adoption placements end, and children/parents die. In some circumstances your shared parental leave may continue; in some circumstances the Company’s Bereavement Policy may also apply.
Please make sure your manager is made aware as soon as possible so that appropriate support and advice can be given. Further information and support can be found at Section 3.
If, for whatever reason, you stop sharing responsibility for a child, you must tell your manager straight away. Your right to SPL and ShPP will cease and you may be required to return to work immediately.