New parents may now be eligible for Shared Parental Leave for up to 52 weeks after having a baby. Parents can take this leave at the same time or in separate blocks.
What is Shared Parental Leave?
Shared Parental Leave allows parents to share leave after having a baby. It also enables parents to take blocks of leave separated by periods of work, rather than having to take all the leave in one go.
Am I eligible for Shared Parental Leave?
You will be eligible for Shared Parental Leave if you meet the following conditions:
- you share the responsibility for your child with your partner
- you have been employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the week your baby is due
- you remain with the same employer while you are taking Shared Parental Leave
Is Shared Parental Leave paid?
Both parents are eligible for Statutory Shared Parental Pay as long as the mother is eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance or Statutory Adoption Pay and the father or partner is also eligible for Statutory Paternity Pay.
In the 2016/17 tax year, Statutory Shared Parental Pay is £139.58 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.
Statutory Shared Parental Pay is paid for up to 39 weeks.
The number of weeks Statutory Shared Parental Pay will last will be based on how many weeks are left after the mother has ended her maternity leave and pay.
How do I take Shared Parental Leave?
As Shared Parental Leave allows parents to divide leave between them, the mother will need to end her maternity leave and Maternity Allowance or maternity pay in order for both parents to start Shared Parental Leave or Statutory Shared Parental Pay.
It may still be possible to get Shared Parental Leave even if the mother does not get maternity leave, providing she ends her Maternity Allowance or Statutory Maternity Pay early.
The remaining leave can then be divided between both parents as Shared Parental Leave. This can be up to 52 weeks.
It is entirely up to parents to choose how to divide the remaining weeks' leave, though it must be used between the birth of your baby and their first birthday.
Taking leave at the same time
As long as both parents are eligible, Shared Parental Leave can be taken by both parents at the same time.
For example, the mother could take four weeks' maternity leave followed by 34 weeks' Shared Parental Leave. This would leave 14 weeks' Shared Parental Leave for the father or partner to take at any time before the child's first birthday, either at the same time as the mother or when she has returned to work.
Taking blocks of leave
Both parents can take up to three blocks of leave each. You can take these blocks of leave at the same time or at different times.
You need to tell your employer about your plans when you apply for Shared Parental Leave.
You can change these plans at a later date but you need to give your employer at least eight weeks' notice before beginning a block of leave.
To find out more about how to apply for Shared Parental Leave, visit the Gov.uk website