Real Employment Law Advice

A Focus on Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave (SPL): Your Questions Answered

This article follows my series about Shared Parental Leave answering the key questions and breaking down the procedure for you. In this article I will deal with questions about how Shared Parental Leave works.

How do I work out how much shared parental leave an employee is entitled to?

  • Birth children

The amount of shared parental leave that an employee can take will depend upon how the parents decide to share the leave between them and how much leave is left after the period of any maternity leave is taken off.

After the birth of a child the mother must take a minimum of 2 weeks compulsory maternity leave. Leaving a balance of 50 weeks to be divided between the parents.

For example

The starting point is 52 weeks, and if the mother takes 4 weeks maternity leave then the remaining period to be split is 48 weeks. The parents decide to split this 50/50 and so the mother will be entitled to 24 weeks and the father 24 weeks.

It should be noted that if a father takes his 2 week entitlement to paternity leave, this will not be taken from the shared parental leave period. So in the example above the father could actually have a total of 26 weeks leave (2 weeks paternity and 24 weeks shared parental leave).

  • Adopted children

The position with adoptive parents is very similar to that with birth parents. They can decide between them how much shared parental leave of the overall entitlement of 52 weeks they will share.

If one parent has taken statutory adoption leave any period will be deducted from the 52 weeks available. The primary adopter must take 2 weeks adoption leave and the adopter’s partner will be entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave.

For example

The primary adopter takes 8 weeks adoption leave, the adopter’s partner takes 2 weeks paternity leave and they decide to take 22 weeks shared parental leave each.

When can employees take Shared Parental Leave?

  • Birth Children

Once the employee has followed the correct procedure of serving notice etc, as set out in my previous article (click here to read) shared parent leave can be taken at any time between the date the child is born and the day before the child’s first birthday.

  • Adopted children

As with birth children adopted parents must comply with the correct procedures, and after doing so they can take shared parental leave any time between the date the child is placed with them for adoption and ends the day before the first anniversary of the date on which the child was placed for adoption.

Can an employee have separate leave periods for each child if they adopt more than one child or have multiple births?

Employees are only entitled to one period of leave per pregnancy or adoption placement, regardless of the number of children.

If you have any questions, comments or experience of the Shared Parental Leave scheme in practice then please leave a comment below or email alison@realemploymentlawadvice.co.uk


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The information contained in this blog post is provided for guidance and is a snapshot of the law at the time it is written. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that it specific to your particular circumstances.

The guidance should not be relied upon in any decision making process. It is strongly recommended that you seek advice before taking action.


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