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FAQs: Shared Parental Leave For Employers

  1. What is Shared Parental Leave (SPL)?
  2. Is it compulsory for mothers to take any part of this leave?
  3. Who is eligible for SPL?
  4. Are there any other conditions?
  5. Can both parents take SPL at the same time?
  6. How long can each parent take?
  7. Is it paid?
  8. Can I recover payments of ShPP?
  9. What information must my employees give?
  10. What information can I request from my employee?
  11. Can SPL be taken in more than period?
  12. Can I keep in touch with my employees?
  13. Is SPL additional to all existing leave rights?

What is Shared Parental Leave (SPL)?

The statutory provisions for Shared Parental Leave (SPL) came into force on 1 December 2014 and are available for parents of children whose expected week of childbirth (EWC) or adoption begins on or after 5 April 2015. Under the rules employees will be entitled to a maximum of 52 weeks leave upon the birth or adoption of a child, which can be shared between the parents.

Parents will not be obliged to take SPL. The default position will be 52 weeks maternity leave, with 39 weeks paid and 13 weeks unpaid.

The default position on the adoption of a child will be that the adopter will be entitled to 52 weeks adoption leave (39 weeks paid).

Is it compulsory for mothers to take any part of this leave?

Yes, as has been the case for many years the first two weeks must be taken as maternity leave.

Who is eligible for SPL?

To qualify for SPL a parent must:

    • Be an employee
    • Share the primary responsibility for the child with the other parent at the time of the birth or placement for adoption
    • Have properly notified their employer of their entitlement and have provided the necessary declarations and evidence

Are there any other conditions?

Yes, in addition, a parent wanting to take SPL is required to satisfy the ‘continuity of employment test’ and their partner must meet the ‘employment and earnings test’.

    • Continuity of Employment Test: Your employee has worked for you for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the child’s expected due date/matching date and is still working for you at the start of each leave period.
    • Employment and Earnings Test:  In the 66 weeks leading up to the baby’s expected due date/ matching date, your employee’s partner has worked for at least 26 weeks and earned an average of at least £30 (as of 2015) a week in any 13 weeks.

Can both parents take SPL at the same time?

Yes and SPL can also be taken whilst a partner is on parental leave, Ordinary Paternity Leave and/or (probably) maternity leave.

How long can each parent take?

The scheme makes up to 50 weeks of SPL available for eligible parents to take other than the compulsory maternity leave period or an equivalent 2 week period in adoption cases.

Is it paid?

For 37 weeks of SPL you are required to pay Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). This is because the first two weeks must be taken as maternity leave. The weekly rate of ShPP is the lower of:

    • The “prescribed rate” (currently £138.18)
    • 90% of the normal weekly earnings of the person claiming ShPP

The difference between SMP and ShPP is therefore that the latter is capped at a statutory amount for every week for which a parent claims ShPP, while SMP is payable at 90% of actual salary (with no cap) for the first six weeks of maternity leave. This means that most mothers will take maternity leave and pay for at least six weeks so as to take advantage of the higher rate.

Can I recover payments of ShPP?

Yes, you can recover at least 92% from the government. Small employers can reclaim 100%.

What information must my employees give?

    • A parent who wishes to take SPL will need to serve notice of entitlement and intention. This is a non-binding indication of how and when a parent intends to take periods of SPL including the start and end dates for each period of leave
    • It needs to be given at least 8 weeks before the start of the first proposed period of SPL and include a declaration by the other parent taking SPL, consenting to the proposal
    • Your employee finalises their requested period of SPL by, at least 8 weeks before the first start date, giving their employer a period of leave notice
    • This notice may be served at the same time as a curtailment notice and notice of entitlement, but does not have to be

What information can I request from my employee?

If you receive a notice of entitlement and intention to take SPL, you may request a copy of the child’s birth certificate or documents notifying the primary adopter that the child is to be placed with them, together with the name and address of the other parent’s employer.

Can SPL be taken in more than period?

Yes although you do not have to agree.

    • A notice that requests one continuous period of SPL must be accepted but where a notice requests discontinuous periods, you have 2 weeks to accept the request, propose alternatives, or refuse it
    • Where you refuse the periods requested, the employee may choose to take the total amount of leave requested as a continuous period or withdraw their original notice. An employee may serve up to 3 notices

Can I keep in touch with my employees?

You and your employee are entitled to make reasonable contact with each other during the period of SPL. The employee may work for up to 20 days during the SPL period without bringing their leave to an end. These are separate and additional to any KIT days that a woman has on maternity leave.  They are referred to as “shared parental leave in touch” (SPLIT) days.

Is SPL additional to all existing leave rights?

No, Additional Paternity Leave will be abolished when SPL becomes available meaning that the only entitlement that the child’s other parent will have is Ordinary Paternity Leave (unless they have engaged with the SPL scheme).

How we help employers deal with Shared Parental Leave

Our specialist solicitors advise on best practice with regards to Shared Parental Leave. This includes advice to ensure equality in the workplace and avoidance of any discriminatory practice. We can provide Shared Parental Leave policies for birth and adoptive parents.

If you need expert employment law advice on shared parental leave, contact us today on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

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