As a Parish Employer you may be asked about Shared Parental Leave. These guidance notes detail what needs to be offered and when.

What is Shared Parental Leave?

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) was introduced in April 2015 as a way to give fathers /partners more time to bond with their babies, and to ease expectations on mothers. Instead of the traditional 52 weeks of maternity leave and two weeks of paternity leave, new parents can now share up to 50 weeks between them.

Key Facts

The father/partner needs to have worked for their employer throughout the pregnancy (or for 26 weeks before being matched for a child). The mother/other adopter needs to meet the lower employment and earning conditions, and must end their maternity leave/Maternity Allowance or Statutory Maternity Pay early. That can be done either by returning to work if they are an employee, or by giving binding notice either to their employer and/or to Jobcentre Plus that they intend to come back or start working again before their leave and/or pay would otherwise end – this is called curtailment. If the father/partner wants to get Shared Parental Pay (ShPP), then the mother/adopter needs to be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay or Maternity Allowance and give formal notice to ‘curtail’ the pay period.

For example, a father could take Shared Parental Leave (SPL) right after his (1 or 2 weeks) ordinary paternity leave, overlapping with the mother’s maternity leave, as long as the mother has given binding notice that she will be ending her maternity leave and/or pay early. Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) is payable if the father/partner earns at least the lower earnings limit a week and there is some SMP or Maternity Allowance (MA) which the mother has curtailed.

You can find information about how to give notice of entitlement and notice to book SPL here, and there is more information on the ACAS website and the GOV website. An individual can check the family’s entitlement to leave and pay, including Shared Parental Leave, using the government calculator.

How to take Shared Parental Leave – notice and booking

To take Shared Parental Leave (SPL) your employee has to:

  • Give you, as employer, written notice that he/she is entitled to take SPL, and specify how much he/she intends to take (this isn’t binding, but gives you, as employer, an indication).
  • Separately, he/she would then need to give at least 8 weeks’ notice of the actual shared parental leave wanted. This is called booking SPL.

Your employee can book one period of SPL, or can book up to 3 separate blocks, and the blocks can be continuous or discontinuous. He/she can give notice up to 3 times, so doesn’t have to decide about how all the SPL should be used. Note: As an employer you don’t have to agree to discontinuous leave, so it’s a good idea to have a discussion with your employee early on about what might be possible. As an employer, you do have to agree if just one block of continuous SPL is requested.

Remember that the mother or main adopter needs to either end maternity/adoption leave by returning to work (by giving 8 weeks’ notice), or give binding notice in advance that s/he will be doing this. If leave doesn’t apply (for example because of self-employment or agency work), and to ensure Statutory Shared Parental Pay is payable, your employee’s partner needs to ensure that Maternity Allowance or SMP are ‘curtailed’. This means giving binding notice to their employer or Jobcentre Plus to end these payments early.

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