Family life is forever changing and evolving.  In days gone by, mothers would traditionally run the home, take care of the children and as such needed the time at home after having a baby.  Today’s family is different.  Parents may both work, may share the childcare and the household duties and so time off from work after a baby has born has had to change to meet the flexible demands of the modern family.

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) was introduced to meet these demands.  Allowing parents to decide when to return to work and to allow families to spend time together in the early stages of a baby’s life.

How does Shared Parental Leave work?

Shared Parental Leave takes over when Maternity Leave finishes.  The idea being that any unused Maternity Leave can be shared between the parents, either individually or at the same time.  SPL doesn’t have to be taken all at once, it can be taken in up to three blocks (each no less than one week), but must be used between the baby’s birth and first birthday.

Are we eligible?

Although leave is shared, you actually qualify individually – you’ll need to share responsibility for the child with your husband, wife or civil partner or the child’s other parent or your partner if they live with you.  You must also meet the following criteria:

  • you or your partner must be eligible for Maternity Pay, Maternity Leave, Maternity Allowance or Adoption Pay or Leave
  • have been employed continuously by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date (or by the date you’re matched with your adopted child)
  • stay with the same employer while you take SPL

During the 66 weeks before the week the baby’s due (or the week you’re matched with your adopted child) your partner must:

  • have been working for at least 26 weeks (they don’t need to be in a row)
  • have earned at least £390 in total in 13 of the 66 weeks (add up the highest paying weeks, they don’t need to be in a row)

This can be as an employee, worker or self-employed person. Your partner doesn’t have to be working at the date of birth or when you start SPL.

Shared Parental Pay

In a similar way to SPL, SPP can be shared between the parents once SMP or Maternity Allowance ends and is paid at the same rate of £139.58 per week, or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

You can find out more about applying for SPL and ShPP, along with tools to work out eligibility on the www.gov.uk website.