- The amount of shared leave and pay
- Ways that SPL can be used
- The Shared Parental Leave Entitlement
- Notifying Us of an entitlement to Shared Parental Leave
- Booking Shared Parental Leave
- Variations to Arranged Shared Parental Leave
- Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)
- Terms and conditions during Shared Parental Leave
- Annual Leave
- Keeping in touch during Shared Parental Leave
- Returning to work after Shared Parental Leave
Shared parental leave and pay policy
Shared Parental Leave (SPL) gives more choice in how two parents can care for their child and eligible parents who are sharing responsibility for a child can get SPL for a child in the first year after:
- the birth of their child
- adopting a child
- getting a parental order if they had a child through surrogacy
The amount of shared leave and pay
Eligible parents can get up to 50 weeks of SPL and up to 37 weeks of Shared Parental Pay (ShPP).
How much SPL or ShPP eligible parents get depends on how much maternity entitlement the birth parent has taken or how much adoption entitlement the primary adopter has taken. It is the same amount even if the parents have more than one child.
Ways that SPL can be used
There are a number of ways that eligible parents can use SPL:
- the birth parent or primary adopter returns to work early from maternity or adoption leave and takes SPL at a later date
- the birth parent or primary adopter returns to work and their partner takes SPL
- both parents take SPL and are off at the same time
- the parents share SPL and are off at different times
Shared parental leave (SPL) can only be used by two people:
- the mother/adopter and
- either the father of the child (in the case of a 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 or placement for adoption.
Additionally, you must satisfy each of the following criteria:
- the mother/adopter of the child must be/have been entitled to statutory maternity/adoption leave or, if not entitled to statutory maternity/adoption leave, they must be/have been entitled to statutory maternity/adoption pay or maternity allowance and must have ended or given notice to reduce any maternity/adoption entitlements;
- you must still be working for us at the start of each period of SPL;
- you must pass the ‘continuity test’ requiring you to 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 a specified minimum rate of total pay in 13 of the 55 weeks (calculated by adding up the highest paying weeks which do not have to be in a row);
- you must correctly notify us of your entitlement and provide evidence as required.
The Shared Parental Leave Entitlement
A mother/primary adopter may reduce their entitlement to maternity/adoption leave by returning to work before the full entitlement of 52 weeks has been taken, or they may give notice to curtail their leave at a specified future date. If they reduce 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.
If the mother/ primary adopter is not entitled to maternity/adoption leave but is entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) or Maternity Allowance (MA), they must reduce their entitlement to less than 37 weeks. If they do this, their partner may be entitled to up to 50 weeks of SPL.
SPL can commence as follows:
- The mother can take SPL after she has taken the legally required two weeks of maternity leave immediately following the birth of the child.
- The primary 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/primary adopter gives notice to curtail their maternity/adoption entitlement then the mother/primary adopter’s partner can take leave while the mother/primary adopter is still using their maternity/adoption entitlements.
SPL will generally commence on your chosen start date specified in your leave booking notice, or in any subsequent variation notice (see "Booking Shared Parental Leave" and "Variations to arranged Shared Parental Leave" below).
If you are eligible to receive it, Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) may be paid for some, or all, of the SPL period (see "Shared Parental Pay" below).
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.
Notifying Us of an entitlement to Shared Parental Leave
You must give your 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 the 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 you were 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 also provide 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;
- that should you cease to be eligible, you will immediately inform us.
You must also provide 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 ‘Eligibility’ above), and at the date of the child’s birth or placement for adoption, had 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 the Company processing the information contained in the declaration form; and
- (in the case where the partner is the mother/adopter), that they will immediately inform you should they cease to satisfy the eligibility conditions.
Booking Shared Parental Leave
In addition to notifying us of your 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 leave; or (b) two or more 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.
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 take six weeks of SPL and work every other week for a period of three months).
Where there is concern over accommodating the notification, we may seek to arrange a meeting to discuss the notification with a view to agreeing an arrangement that meets both your needs and those of the Company. We will consider a discontinuous leave notification but have 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
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.
All requests for discontinuous leave will be carefully considered, weighing up the potential benefits to you and any adverse impact to the business.
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.
You will be informed in writing of the decision as soon as is reasonably practicable, but no later than the 14th day after the leave notification was made. The request may be granted in full or in part: for example, we may propose a modified version of the request.
If a discontinuous leave pattern is refused then you may withdraw the request 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.
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 (made by you), including a notice to return to work early, will usually count as a new notification. However, a change as a result of a child being born early, or as a result of us requesting it to be changed and you being agreeable to the change, will not count as a further notification. Any variation will be confirmed in writing.
Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)
Eligible employees may be entitled to up to 37 weeks’ ShPP while taking SPL. The number of weeks available will depend on the amount by which the mother/primary 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, you must further satisfy each of the following criteria:
- the mother/primary adopter must be/have been entitled to statutory maternity/adoption pay or maternity allowance and must have reduced her maternity/adoption pay period or maternity allowance period;
- you must intend to care for the child during the weeks in which ShPP is payable;
- you must have average weekly earnings, for the eight-week period leading up to and including the 15th week before the child’s expected due date/matching date, of 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 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 to receive 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 provided 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 whether the partner is the mother/ adopter, that they will immediately inform you should they cease to satisfy the eligibility conditions.
Any ShPP due will be paid at the statutory rate applicable at the time, which is set by the Government annually in April, or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.
Subject to continuous employment with us for a minimum of 12 months, you may be eligible for enhanced shared parental pay, which includes being paid at the rate of 80% of your normal pay during the first two months of shared parental leave. If you take a period of maternity or adoption leave followed by one or more periods of shared parental leave, you will not be eligible for enhanced shared parental pay.
Terms and conditions during Shared Parental Leave
During the period of SPL, your contract of employment continues to be in force and you are entitled to receive all your contractual benefits, except for salary.
Pension contributions will continue to be made during any period when you are receiving ShPP but not during any period of unpaid SPL. Employee contributions will be based on actual pay, while our contributions will be based on the salary that you would have received had you not been taking SPL.
SPL is granted in addition to your normal annual holiday entitlement. You are reminded that holiday should, wherever possible, be taken in the year that it is earned. Where an SPL period overlaps two leave years, any holiday entitlement that cannot reasonably be taken before starting SPL can be carried over and must be taken immediately before returning to work unless a Director agrees otherwise.
Keeping in touch during Shared Parental Leave
Before you go on SPL we will talk with you about how you would like to stay in touch. We will keep you informed about:
- Any jobs being advertised
- Any promotion opportunities
- Any planed reorganisation or redundancies
Please let us know if you would like to be kept updated about any other aspect of our business, such as social events or team newsletters.
Opportunities may also be made available to arrange Shared Parental Keeping in Touch (SPLIT) days to give you the chance to come to work, to undertake training and keep in touch for up to 20 days during SPL without losing your right to ShPP.
SPLIT days are in addition to KIT days, are not compulsory and must be discussed and agreed with your manager. You will be paid at your normal basic rate of pay for time spent working on a SPLIT day and this will be inclusive of any shared parental pay entitlement. Alternatively, you may agree with your manager to receive the equivalent paid time off in lieu.
Returning to work after Shared Parental Leave
If you wish to return to work earlier than the expected return date, you may provide a written notice to vary the leave (giving 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 of statutory maternity/paternity/adoption leave and SPL amounts to 26 weeks or less.
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 than before.