1. There is no change to the existing provisions for maternity leave and pay. The only difference is that the mother can choose to give up some maternity leave and/or pay so that her partner (and/or she) can take shared parental leave (SPL).
2. There is no extra leave or pay for couples. The SPL system enables parents who have the main caring responsibility for the child to share a pot of leave and pay in the first year.
There is a pot of 52 weeks leave and 39 weeks pay. Mothers must take at least two weeks compulsory maternity leave and pay which reduces the pot of leave and pay to 50 weeks leave and 37 weeks pay. It is these 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay that the father can share if the mother curtails her maternity leave and pay.
Fathers have an independent free-standing right to take 2 weeks paternity leave and pay (see Paternity leave)
3. Not all women who are entitled to maternity leave (where there is no minimum length of service) will be entitled to shared parental leave. There are strict qualifying tests for SPL in relation to both parents (see below).
4. To qualify for SPL the employee must have 26 weeks continuous employment with the same employer at the 15th week before the EWC (continuity of employment test). Their partner must have worked in 26 of the last 66 weeks earning at least £30 per week on average for 13 of those weeks (Employment and earnings test). See Shared Parental Leave – Are you entitled?
5. You have to be an employee to qualify for maternity leave. But, if you are self-employed you can enable your partner to take SPL if s/he is employed and satisfies the qualifying tests;
6. It is for the mother (or main adopter) to choose whether to give up some of her maternity leave (and/or pay or maternity allowance) enable her and her partner to take SPL; she does not have to if she does not want to;
7. Once the mother has returned to work after maternity leave, she cannot go back on maternity leave; she can take SPL if she qualifies and gives the required notice.
8. Once the mother has given up part of her maternity leave, she can only change her mind in limited circumstances;
9. The mother can be on maternity leave at the same time as her partner is on SPL, provided she has curtailed her maternity leave;
10. SPL taken by one partner will reduce the amount available for the other. There is a maximum of 50 weeks to take (less any maternity leave the mother has taken or is intending to take);
11. SPL can only be taken a week at a time. It can start mid-week and be taken in up to three separate periods (or more if your employer agrees to discontinuous leave).
12. Employees on SPL can alternate between work and up to 3 periods of SPL during the year, provided the employer agrees, in which case they can alternate as much as they wish within the first year of the child’s life, as long as SPL is taken a week at a time. Another way to alternate SPL and work is to give three separate booking notices for the three periods.
13. An employee who wishes to take more than three separate periods of leave will need the employer’s permission to do this. They will have to request ‘discontinuous leave’ in one of their booking notices.
14. An employees can work for up to 20 (SPLIT) days during SPL as well as the mother taking 10 (KIT) days during maternity leave
– provided the employer agrees;
15. Both partners can be claiming shared parental pay at the same time if they are both on SPL
(but see above)
16. Employees must always give 8 weeks’ notice to return from maternity leave (except at the end of the 52 weeks) or take SPL.
There are detailed notice provisions.
17. Similar provisions apply to adopters and surrogate parents. Adopters now have Day 1 rights and surrogate parents can adopt.
If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.