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Shared Parental Leave Employer Guide

Employees who have a baby or adopt a child may qualify for Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP).

This Shared Parental Leave and Pay employer guide explains employee eligibility, SPL entitlement rates, and how to split blocks of leave.

Shared Parental Leave Employee Eligibility

Providing they qualify, and either they or their partner end maternity or adoption leave or pay early, employees can start SPL.

They can take remaining leave as Shared Parental Leave and any remaining pay could be available as Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP).

SPL can be available in three (3) separate blocks, shared with their partner (if eligible), and parents can choose how much each will take.

An Example:
One of your employees has a baby or adopts a child. She and her partner both meet the eligibility criteria for SPL and ShPP.
The mother chooses to end her maternity leave and pay after a period of twelve (12) weeks. That means she still has forty (40) weeks available for SPL and twenty seven (27) weeks available for ShPP.
In this example, both of the parents would be able to choose how they split the remainder.

Even so, employees need to take SPL and ShPP between the baby’s birth date and their first birthday (or no later than one year for an adoption).

If only one parent in a couple qualifies for Shared Parental Leave and Statutory Shared Parental Pay, they will not be able to share the leave.

But, any employee who is eligible will be able to use SPL to book separate blocks of leave (further details below).

Note: Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) are only available for people in England, Scotland, and Wales.

Qualifying for Shared Parental Leave

So, how does an employee qualify for SPL? First, they must share responsibility for the child with (any):

  • Their spouse (husband, wife, civil partner) or joint adopter.
  • The child’s other parent.
  • Their partner (providing they live together).

Besides being eligible for maternity pay or leave, adoption pay or leave, or Maternity Allowance, the employee or their partner must also:

  • Remain in your employment while they take their Shared Parental Leave (SPL).
  • Provide you with the ‘correct notice’ and a declaration that their partner meets all employment and income requirements that allow your employee to get SPL.
  • Worked for the same employer without a break (called continuous employment) for at least twenty six (26) weeks up to any day in the ‘qualifying week’ (or week matched with a child for adoption).

Important: The fifteenth (15th) week before the baby’s due date is used as the ‘qualifying week’ in the United Kingdom.

When You Can Refuse SPL or ShPP

Refusing SPL or ShPP is only relevant when an employee fails to qualify. Even so, employers must inform their employees about the reason for refusing ShPP (not required when refusing SPL).

Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)

Providing employees meet the conditions of employment status, they will be able to get ShPP if they (either):

  • Meet the eligibility criteria for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP).
  • Qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) and their partner is eligible for (any):
    • Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
    • Maternity Allowance (MA)
    • Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP)

Note: Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) would also be available if they have worker status and they qualify for SMP or SPP.

Employee Entitlement

Employees who are eligible and either they or their partner end maternity or adoption leave and pay early (or Maternity Allowance) can take:

  • Shared Parental Leave (SPL) for the rest of the fifty two (52) weeks of leave (up to a maximum of fifty (50) weeks).
  • Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) for the rest of the thirty nine (39) weeks of pay (up to a maximum of thirty seven (37) weeks).

Note: Mothers need to take at least two (2) weeks of maternity leave following the birth (four weeks if working in a factory). Another section lists weekly Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) rates.

Starting Shared Parental Leave

Before your employee can start Shared Parental Leave (SPL), either the mother or the adopter of the child, must (any apply):

  • Return to work, thus ending their maternity or adoption leave.
  • Provide you with ‘binding notice’ (which usually means it cannot be changed) of the date they are going to end their maternity or adoption leave.
  • End maternity pay or Maternity Allowance (in cases where they do not have entitlement to maternity leave, such as for people who are self-employed or agency workers).

Adoptive parents who get Statutory Adoption Pay need to take a minimum of two weeks of adoption leave (taken from the day of the placement or up to fourteen (14) days before it starts.

Note: Mothers need to provide employers with at least eight (8) weeks of notice to end maternity pay (or inform Jobcentre Plus to end Maternity Allowance). Whereas, adopters need to give notice to end their adoption pay.

As long as the mother (or the adopter) has given binding notice to end the leave (or pay), SPL can start for the partner while the mother or adopter is still on maternity or adoption leave.

An Example:

Let’s assume that a mother and her partner both meet the eligibility criteria for SPL. The mother starts her maternity leave ten (10) weeks before the birth of her baby and decides to take sixteen (16) weeks’ maternity leave – and gives notice to do so.

So, because the employer received binding notice, the mother’s partner can start SPL straight after the baby has been born (providing they gave at least eight (8) weeks of notice).

Employee Obligations

Employees must supply their employers with written notice before starting SPL or Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) produce free forms and templates for eligible parents to download and use.

Once the employer receives this notice, they will be able to ask their employee for:

  • A copy of the child’s birth certificate.
  • Name and address of their partner’s employer.

Important: The employer has fourteen (14) days to ask for this information and the employee has a further fourteen (14) days to provide it.

8 Weeks’ Notice Period

As a rule, the minimum notice period of leave for an employee to give is eight weeks. But, the notice period can be shorter if the child is born more than eight (8) weeks early.

Employees have statutory rights in United Kingdom to a maximum of three (3) separate blocks of leave. Even so, employers can choose to allow more.

Cancelling a Decision

In some cases, the mother (or the adopter) may change their decision to end maternity or adoption leave early, such as in situations where (both):

  • They did not return to work.
  • The planned end date has yet to pass.

But, when cancelling the decision to end maternity or adoption leave, at least one of the following circumstances must also apply:

  • During the eight week notice period, it is discovered that none of the partners are eligible for SPL or ShPP.
  • The partner of the employee died.
  • It is less than six (6) weeks since the birth (and the mother gave notice before the baby was born).

Shared Parental Leave in Touch Days

So-called ‘SPLIT’ days allow employees to work up to a maximum of twenty (20) days during Shared Parental Leave without bringing the process to an end.

They are in addition to the ten (10) ‘KIT’ days (keeping in touch) that are already available to people who are on maternity or adoption leave. KIT days are optional and agreed between employers and employees.

Note: The main section has further advice and guidance about statutory leave and time off (e.g. working hours and taking rest breaks).

Separating Blocks of Leave

Employees who take Shared Parental Leave (SPL) do not need to take it all in one go. They can take it as three separate blocks – even if they do not share the leave with their partner.

Furthermore, both parents can take SPL at the same time (together) or at different times. But, you must get at least eight weeks of notice before any block of leave can begin.

Splitting the Blocks

Employers can allow their employees to split a block of leave into shorter periods (e.g. at least one week). Thus, they could use six (6) weeks of SPL by working every other week during a 12-week block – as an example.

If your employee is eligible, and provides you with the correct notice, you cannot turn down a request for a block of leave. But, you can choose not to agree to them breaking the block into shorter periods.

Keeping Records for HMRC

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) require employers to keep records for a minimum of three (3) years from the end of the relevant tax year, including:

  • Employee evidence showing they are eligible for ShPP (and the date it began).
  • ShPP payments (including the relevant dates) and the amount of ShPP you reclaimed.
  • Information about any weeks you did not pay and the reason for not doing so.

Note: If you can get financial help with statutory pay you may be able to reclaim 92% of payments and apply for an advance if you are unable to make the payments.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay Employer Guide for United Kingdom