What you can expect if you take shared parental leave

shared parental leaveShared parental leave was introduced in April 2015 and was aimed at giving fathers and partners more time to bond with their children. More and more fathers want to play a hands-on role with their children and find it hard that they can’t. Fathers and mothers will still be entitled to take maternity and paternity leave if they wish but can always change to take shared parental leave if they give their employer enough notice.

Below is a guide of all you need to know about shared parental leave and statutory shared parental pay, both as a mother and father.

What is shared parental leave?

Shared parental leave is a new system made by the government that allows for mothers, fathers, adopters and partners to be more flexible in how they share the care of their child. Parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay and can also choose to take their leave and pay in a more flexible way. The pay is to be shared between you in the first year that your child is born or adopted within your family. It is acceptable to take shared parental leave in blocks which are separated by periods of work, or you can take it all in one go. Both you and partner can take the leave together or you can stagger the parental leave and pay.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for both shared parental leave and statutory shared parental pay, both parents must share responsibility for the child at birth and meet the work and pay criteria. The work and pay criteria can be different depending on which parent wants to use the shared parental leave and pay.

If both parents want to take shared parental leave and statutory shared parental pay, then you both must have been employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date. You must stay with the employer for the duration of the shared parental leave and earn an average at least £116 a week each. If either of you are a ‘worker’ then you can share statutory shared parental pay but not shared parental leave. Likewise, if either of you earn less than £116 a week then you can share parental leave but not statutory shared parental pay.

If the mothers partner wants to take shared parental leave and shared statutory parental pay, the mother must have been working for at least 26 weeks during the 66 weeks before the baby is due. She also must earn at least £390 in total across any of the 13 of the 66 weeks. The mother’s partner must also have been in continuous employment by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the child’s due date. They must stay with the same employer whilst taking shared parental leave and earn on average at least £116 a week. If the mother’s partner is a worker, then they can get shared statutory parental pay but not shared parent leave and if the mothers partner earns less than £116 a week, they are eligible for shared parental leave but not shared statutory parental pay.

If the mother wants to take shared parental leave and shared statutory parental pay, the mother’s partner must have been working for at least 26 weeks in a row during the 66 weeks before the week the baby is due. The mother’s partner must also earn at least £390 in total in 13 weeks if the 66 weeks. The mother must be employed continuously by the same employer for at least 26 weeks, they must stay with the same employer whilst taking shared parental leave and earn an average of at least £116 a week.

Statutory shared parental pay

You can only start statutory shared parental pay or shared parental leave when the child has been born or placed for adoption. For shared parental leave to start, the mother, or person taking either maternity leave or adoption leave must either return to work which ends the maternity or adoption leave or give their employer binding notice of the date when they plan to start their leave. It is good to note that you can still start shared parental leave whilst your partner is still on maternity or adoption leave as long as they’ve given binding notice to their employer of an end date.

If you’re eligible and either you or your partner end maternity or adoption leave and pay early, then you can still take the rest of the 52 weeks of maternity or adoption leave as shared parental leave. You can also take the rest of the 39 weeks of maternity or adoption pay as statutory shared parental pay. Statutory shared parental pay is paid at a rate of£145.18 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. This is the same as statutory maternity pay, except during the first 6 weeks of maternity pay, you are paid 90% of whatever you earn with no maximum amount.

For example, a woman decides to start her maternity leave 4 weeks before her baby is due and gives notice to her employer that she wants to start shared parental leave 10 weeks after the birth of her child and she normally earns around £200 a week. She gets paid £180 as maternity pay which is 90% of her average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks of maternity leave and then once she goes onto shared parental leave, she will be paid £145.18 a week.

Booking blocks of leave

When taking shared parental leave, you can take up to 3 separate blocks instead of taking it all in one go, even if you are sharing it with your partner. However, if your partner is eligible for shared parental leave, you can take up to 3 blocks of leave each. You can either take the leave at the same time or take it separately. It is essential that you inform your employer about your plans of leave when you apply for shared parental leave. You can change these plans later, but you must give your employer at least 8 weeks’ notice of when you want to begin your block of leave.

It is also possible to split your blocks into shorter periods of at least a week, if your employer agrees.

For example, a mother finishes her maternity leave at the end of October and takes the rest of her leave as shared parental leave with her partner who is eligible. They both take the whole of November off as their first block of shared parental leave and the partner returns to work in the November. The mother also returns to work in the December and gives her employer notice that she will be taking leave again in February. This will then be her second block of shared parental leave and her employer agrees to her having two weeks off and the working two weeks during the block.