Pump Court Chambers

Shared parental leave

Blog 5th February 2015

From 5 April 2015 the long awaited rules in relation to Shared Parental Leave (“SPL”) will come into effect. Whilst this may still seem some way in the future, from this month those wishing to take such leave will start handing in their notices and employers need to ensure the requisite procedures are in place. The rules apply to children due (it does not matter when the child is actually born) or matched for adoption on or after 5 April 2015. Employees who are the intended parents in a surrogacy situation may also qualify for adoption leave and pay from 5 April 2015. From December 2014 employees have been protected against suffering a detriment if they request to utilise the new rules.

New parents will have a 50 week block of leave and it will be up to them to decide how they wish to share such leave. The only notable restrictions are;

  • that the leave cannot commence before the child is born;
  • the leave must be shared and taken before the child’s first birthday;
  • the mother must take the first two weeks as compulsory maternity leave; and
  • the leave must be taken in blocks of at least one week

From 5 April 2015 employees matched for adoption no longer need 26 weeks continuous service to be eligible for statutory adoption leave; they will be eligible from day one of their employment.


Shared Parental Leave: From October 2014 partners have been allowed unpaid time off to attend two ante-natal appointments (taking up to six and a half hours each time).

Adoption: From 5 April 2015, employees have the right to time off work to attend adoption appointments. The primary adopter has the right to paid time off to attend up to five adoption appointments, whilst the other adopter is entitled to unpaid time off to attend up to two appointments. Appointments may be for up to six and a half hours at a time. The right is available to employees from day one of employment.


Shared parental leave: Shared parental leave is paid for up to 37 weeks at the flat rate of statutory maternity pay, capped at the lower of £138.18 or 90% of pay. Unlike statutory maternity pay where the mother is entitled to receive an enhanced rate of 90% of actual pay for the first six weeks, shared parental pay will all be paid at the flat rate.

Adoption: Adopters who have a child matched with them on or after 5 April 2015 may be entitled to receive enhanced statutory adoption pay of 90% of their normal earnings for the first six weeks of leave. To qualify, they must satisfy certain criteria including having 26 weeks’ continuous service at the date of matching. Up to 33 weeks of remaining leave can be paid at the rate set by the Government or 90% of weekly earnings, whichever is lower. This brings adoption pay into line with the existing statutory regime for maternity pay.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. The baby must be due / adoption matched on or after 5 April 2015.
  2. The partner must have a specific relationship to the mother and baby: The partner can be the child’s father, the mother’s husband or civil partner at the time of the birth, or a partner who lives with her and the child in an ‘enduring family relationship’. If there is more than one eligible partner it will be for the mother to elect the partner with whom she will share her parental leave.
  3. Maternity leave must be shortened: The mother needs to have shortened any entitlement she has to statutory maternity leave, pay and allowance by returning to work or giving notice.
  4. Mother and partner must comply with Shared Parental Leave procedures.
  5. Mother and partner must have responsibility for caring for the child
  6. Mother and partner satisfy minimum earning criteria.

Request Procedure

There are 3 notices required to complete this procedure, often all three will be given at the same time but some employers may require 3 distinct notices.

Step 1: Mother must shorten her maternity leave and commit to sharing the untaken balance and pay with her partner. This notice can be revoked up to six weeks after birth allowing for a second curtailment notice to be served at a later stage. It may also be revoked in other circumstances i.e. if the partner dies, but here no right to make a second leave curtailment notice exists.

Step 2: Both parents must give their employer a notice of entitlement and intention to take parental leave. This notice is an indication only and is not binding. The notice must provide specific information such as:

  • the names of both parents who wish to use SPL;
  • the start and end date of the maternity leave;
  • the balance of leave and pay which remains;
  • the date the baby is due;
  • how much leave each partner proposes to take;
  • when the employee intends to take their portion of leave;
  • a declaration that the parents meet the qualifying conditions;
  • an agreement to the division of leave and pay; and,
  • an agreement to information being processed by the employer.

Step 3: The mother and partner must each notify their employer before they take any of the block of shared parental leave with at least 8 weeks’ notice. Employees can withdraw or vary a notice to take a period of leave, generally with 8 weeks’ notice from the start date.

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