Shared Parental Leave enables eligible parents to choose how to share the care of their child during the first year of birth or adoption. All eligible employees have a statutory right to take Shared Parental Leave. There may also be an entitlement to some Shared Parental Pay. This policy sets out the statutory rights and responsibilities of employees who wish to take statutory Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP).
SPL can be used by two people:
- The mother/adopter and
- One of the following:
- the father of the child (in the case of birth) or
- the spouse, civil partner or partner of the child's mother/ adopter.
Both parents must share the main responsibility for the care of the child at the time of the birth/placement for adoption.
Additionally, if you are seeking to take SPL you must satisfy each of the following criteria:
- the mother/adopter of the child must have ended or given notice to curtail any maternity/adoption entitlements;
- you must still be working for us at the start of each period of SPL;
- you must have a minimum of 26 weeks' service at the end of the 15th week before the child’s expected due date/matching date;
- your partner must meet the ‘employment and earnings test’ requiring them in the 66 weeks leading up to the child’s expected due date/matching date to have worked for at least 26 weeks and earned at least the minimum average wage stipulated by government regulations from time to time in any 13 of those weeks;
- you must correctly notify us of your entitlement and provide evidence as required.
The Shared Parental Leave entitlement
If eligible, you may be entitled to take up to 50 weeks SPL during your child’s first year in your family. If the mother/adopter reduces their maternity/adoption leave entitlement, then they and/or their partner may opt-in to the SPL system and take any remaining weeks as SPL.
SPL can commence as follows:
- The mother can take SPL after she has taken the legally required two weeks of compulsory maternity leave immediately following the birth of the child
- The adopter can take SPL after taking at least two weeks of adoption leave
- The father/partner/spouse can take SPL immediately following the birth/placement of the child, but may first choose to exhaust any paternity leave entitlements (as the father/partner cannot take paternity leave or pay once they have taken any SPL or ShPP).
Where a mother/adopter gives notice to curtail their maternity/adoption entitlement then the mother/adopter’s partner can take leave while the mother/adopter is still using their maternity/adoption entitlements.
SPL must end no later than one year after the birth/placement of the child. Any SPL not taken by the first birthday or first anniversary of placement for adoption is lost.
If you are entitled and intending to take SPL, you must give your line manager notification of your entitlement and intention to take SPL, at least eight weeks before you can take any period of SPL.
Part of the eligibility criteria requires you to provide us with correct notification. Notification must be in writing and requires each of the following:
- Your name;
- the name of the other parent;
- the start and end dates of any maternity/adoption leave or pay, or maternity allowance, taken in respect of the child and the total amount of SPL available;
- the date on which the child is expected to be born and the actual date of birth or, in the case of an adopted child, the date on which the employee was notified of having been matched with the child and the date of placement for adoption;
- the amount of SPL you and your partner each intend to take
- a non-binding indication of when you expect to take the leave.
You must provide us with a signed declaration stating:
- that you meet, or will meet, the eligibility conditions and are entitled to take SPL;
- that the information you have given is accurate;
- if you are not the mother/adopter you must confirm that you are either the father of the child or the spouse, civil partner or partner of the mother/adopter; and
- that should you cease to be eligible you will immediately inform us.
You must provide us with a signed declaration from your partner confirming:
- their name, address and national insurance number (or a declaration that they do not have a national insurance number);
- that they are the mother/adopter of the child or they are the father of the child or are the spouse, civil partner or partner of the mother/adopter;
- that they satisfy the ‘employment and earnings test’ (see above), and had at the date of the child’s birth or placement for adoption the main responsibility for the child, along with you;
- that they consent to the amount of SPL that you intend to take;
- that they consent to us processing the information contained in the declaration form; and
- (in the case where the partner is the mother/adopter), that they will immediately inform their partner (you) should they cease to satisfy the eligibility conditions.
We may, within 14 days of the SPL entitlement notification being given, request:
- the name and business address of your partner’s employer (where your partner is no longer employed or is self-employed, your partner’s contact details must be given instead)
- in the case of biological parents, a copy of the child's birth certificate (or, where one has not been issued, a declaration as to the time and place of the birth).
- in the case of an adopted child, documentary evidence of the name and address of the adoption agency, the date on which you were was notified of having been matched with the child and the date on which the agency expects to place the child for adoption
In order to be entitled to SPL, you must produce this information within 14 days of our request.
Booking Shared Parental Leave
In addition to notifying us of entitlement to SPL/ShPP, you must also give notice to take the leave. In many cases, notice to take leave will be given at the same time as the notice of entitlement to SPL.
You have the right to submit three notifications specifying leave periods you are intending to take. Each notification may contain either (a) a single period of weeks of continuous leave; or (b) two or more periods of weeks of discontinuous leave, where you intend to return to work between periods of leave.
SPL can only be taken in complete weeks but may begin on any day of the week. For example, if a week of SPL began on a Tuesday it would finish on a Monday.
You must book SPL by giving the correct notification at least eight weeks before the date on which you wish to start the leave and (if applicable) receive ShPP.
Continuous leave notifications
A notification can be for a period of continuous leave, which means a notification of a number of weeks taken in a single unbroken period of leave (for example, six weeks in a row).
You have the right to take a continuous block of leave notified in a single notification, so long as it does not exceed the total number of weeks of SPL available to you (specified in the notice of entitlement) and we have been given at least eight weeks’ notice.
You may submit up to three separate notifications for continuous periods of leave.
Discontinuous leave notifications
A single notification may also contain a request for two or more periods of discontinuous leave, which means asking for a set number of weeks of leave over a period of time, with breaks between the leave where you return to work (for example, an arrangement where you will take six weeks of SPL and work every other week for a period of three months).
Where there is concern over accommodating the notification, either you or us may seek to arrange a meeting to discuss the notification with a view to agreeing an arrangement that meets both your needs and the needs of the organisation.
The organisation will consider a discontinuous leave notification but has the right to refuse it. If the leave pattern is refused, you can either withdraw it within 15 days of giving it, or can take the leave in a single continuous block.
Responding to a Shared Parental Leave notification
Once the line manager receives the leave booking notice, it will be dealt with as soon as possible, but a response will be provided no later than the 14th day after the leave request was made. All notices for continuous leave will be confirmed in writing.
It may be helpful to arrange a meeting to discuss the leave proposed and what will happen while you are away from work. Where there is a request for continuous leave or where we can accommodate a request for discontinuous leave without any difficulty, a meeting may not be necessary. Where the application is for discontinuous leave, the discussion at the meeting may focus on how the leave proposal could be agreed, whether a modified arrangement would be agreeable to you and the organisation, and what the outcome may be if no agreement is reached.
All requests for discontinuous leave will be carefully considered, weighing up the potential benefits to you and to the organisation against any adverse impact to the organisation. Each request for discontinuous leave will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Agreeing to one request will not set a precedent or create the right for another employee to be granted a similar pattern of SPL. The request may be granted in full or in part: for example, the organisation may propose a modified version of the request.
If a discontinuous leave pattern is refused, then you may withdraw the request without detriment on or before the 15th day after the notification was given; or may take the total number of weeks in the notice in a single continuous block. If you choose to take the leave in a single continuous block, you have until the 19th day from the date the original notification was given to choose when you want the leave period to begin. The leave cannot start sooner than eight weeks from the date the original notification was submitted. If you do not choose a start date, then the leave will begin on the first leave date requested in the original notification.
Variations to arranged Shared Parental Leave
You are permitted to vary or cancel an agreed and booked period of SPL, provided that you advise us in writing at least eight weeks before the date of any variation. Any new start date cannot be sooner than eight weeks from the date of the variation request.
Any variation or cancellation notification you make, including notice to return to work early, will usually count as a new notification reducing your right to book/vary leave by one. However, a change as a result of a child being born early, or as a result of us requesting leave be changed, and you being agreeable to the change, will not count as further notification. Any variation will be confirmed by us in writing.
Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)
Eligible employees may be entitled to up to 37 weeks statutory shared parental pay while taking SPL. The amount of weeks available for the parents to take between them will depend on the amount by which the mother/adopter reduces their maternity/adoption pay period or maternity allowance period.
ShPP may be payable during some or all of SPL, depending on the length and timing of the leave.
In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements for SPL, where you are seeking to claim ShPP, you must further satisfy each of the following criteria:
- the mother/adopter must be/have been entitled to statutory maternity/adoption pay or maternity allowance and must have reduced their maternity/adoption pay period or maternity allowance period;
- you must intend to care for the child during the week in which ShPP is payable;
- your average weekly earnings for the period of eight weeks leading up to and including the 15th week before the child’s expected due date/matching date are not less than the lower earnings limit in force for national insurance contributions;
- you must remain in continuous employment until the first week of ShPP has begun;
- you must give proper notification in accordance with the rules set out below.
Where you are entitled to receive ShPP, you must, at least eight weeks before receiving any ShPP, give your line manager written notice advising of your entitlement to ShPP. To avoid duplication, if possible, this should be included as part of the notice of entitlement to take SPL.
In addition to what must be included in the notice of entitlement to take SPL, any notice that advises of an entitlement for ShPP must include:
- the start and end dates of any maternity/adoption pay or maternity allowance;
- the total amount of ShPP available, the amount of ShPP you and your partner each intend to claim, and a non-binding indication of when you expect to claim ShPP;
- a signed declaration from you confirming that the information you have given is correct, that you meet, or will meet, the criteria for ShPP and that you will immediately inform us should you cease to be eligible.
It must be accompanied by a signed declaration from your partner confirming:
- their agreement to you claiming ShPP and for us to process any ShPP payments to you;
- (in the case where the partner is the mother/ adopter) that they have reduced their maternity/adoption pay or maternity allowance;
- (in the case where the partner is the mother/ adopter) that they will immediately inform their partner (you) should they cease to satisfy the eligibility conditions.
Any ShPP due will be paid at a rate set by the Government at the relevant time.
Terms and conditions during Shared Parental Leave
During the period of SPL, your contract of employment continues in force and you are entitled to receive all your contractual benefits, except for salary. In particular, any benefits in kind will continue and annual leave entitlement will continue to accrue.
Pension contributions will continue to be made during any period when you are receiving ShPP but not during any period of unpaid SPL. Employer contributions will be based on your normal salary, in accordance with the pension scheme rules. Employee contributions you make will be based on the amount of ShPP pay you are receiving.
While you are on Shared Parental Leave, your holiday entitlement continues to accrue. We reserve the right to require you to take blocks of annual leave either immediately before or immediately after periods of Shared Parental Leave to minimise disruption.
Shared Parental Leave in Touch days
You can agree to work for us (or attend training) for up to 20 days during SPL without bringing your period of SPL to an end or impacting on your right to claim ShPP for that week. These are known as "Shared Parental Leave In Touch" or "SPLIT" days.
We have no right to require you to carry out any work, and we are under no obligation to offer you any work, during your SPL. Any work undertaken is a matter for agreement between yourself and us. If you take a SPLIT day you will receive full pay for any day worked. If a SPLIT day occurs during a week when you are receiving ShPP, this will be effectively ‘topped up’ so that you receive full pay for the day in question. Any SPLIT days worked do not extend the period of SPL.
Returning to work after Shared Parental Leave
You will have been formally advised in writing by us of the end date of any period of SPL. You are expected to return on the next working day after this date, unless they notify your line manager otherwise. If you are unable to attend work due to sickness or injury, our normal arrangements for sickness absence will apply. In any other case, late return without prior authorisation will be treated as unauthorised absence and dealt with in accordance with our disciplinary policy.
If you wish to return to work earlier than the expected return date, you may provide a written notice to vary the leave and must give us at least eight weeks’ notice of your date of early return. This will count as one of your notifications. If you have already used your three notifications to book and/or vary leave then we do not have to accept the notice to return early but may do if it is considered to be reasonably practicable to do so.
On returning to work after SPL, you are entitled to return to the same job if your aggregate total statutory maternity/paternity/adoption leave and SPL amounts to 26 weeks or less. The same job is the one you occupied immediately before commencing maternity/paternity/adoption leave and the most recent period of SPL, on the same terms and conditions of employment as if you had not been absent.
If your maternity/paternity/adoption leave and SPL amounts to 26 weeks or more in aggregate, you are entitled to return to the same job you held before commencing the last period of leave or, if this is not reasonably practicable, to another job which is both suitable and appropriate and on terms and conditions no less favourable.