Introduced in 2015, Shared Parental Leave (SPL) allows an eligible woman to share her maternity leave with her partner, and we're going to explain how it works 👇
We know that women are entitled to 52 weeks of Maternity Leave and up to 39 weeks' of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP, subject to eligibility criteria) and employees are also entitled to the same for Adoption Leave. SPL gives parents the flexibility to decide which of them will stay at home following the birth or adoption of a child and for how long. But it's a massively under-used entitlement because the general feeling is that it's really complicated when actually, it's a complicated as you want to make it.
How does SPL work?
The basic principle of SPL is that if a woman on maternity leave (or a parent taking Adoption Leave) decided to only take 26 weeks of her leave, the remaining 26 weeks of leave and remaining SMP can be converted into SPL and transferred to the other parent.
So effectively, both parents can take an equal amount of time off work to care for the child. Although SPL is different to Maternity and Adoption Leave because it does not have to be taken as a single, continuous period. SPL can be taken in periods of a week or multiples of a week.
Eligibility for SPL
An employee will only qualify for shared parental leave if the other parent meets certain basic work and earnings conditions. The other parent must have been in employment or self-employment for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before the child's due date/week of matching and have earned at least £390 in total in 13 of those 66 weeks.
The employee must have 26 weeks' continuous service at the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth/week of matching.
The employee must have the main responsibility for the child's care with the other parent.
The mother must cut short her maternity leave period. In adoption cases, the main adopter must cut short their adoption leave.
Employees must give the relevant notifications to their employer at least 8 weeks before the first period of leave.
Do both parents have to work for the same employer?
No. If the mother or main adopter works for Company A and their partner works for Company B, both parents must notify their employers and enable communication between the two companies.
How much notice do employees have to give to take SPL?
The mother/main adopter must bring their maternity/adoption leave to an end by serving a leave curtailment notice to their employer.
The other parent must serve a notice of entitlement and intention to take leave to their employer and a notice to take leave.
Each of these notices need to be given at least 8 weeks before the first period of leave the employee wishes to take.
The leave notices should stipulate how much leave each parent wishes to take and when. Employees can request up to 3 periods of SPL which means that the parents could alternate periods of leave 3 times.
Bear in mind though that new mothers must take the statutory maternity leave of 2 (or 4 weeks in manufacturing). This leave cannot be transferred.
What pay do employees get on SPL?
Eligible employees can receive a maximum of 37 weeks of Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) which is paid at the lower rate of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).
Employers can reclaim up to 92% of the costs of ShPP and SMP from HMRC.
What rights to employees have on SPL?
Employees on SPL are entitled to the same rights as an employee on Maternity Leave. All terms and conditions of employment (with the exception of pay) remain in place and employees continue to accrue annual leave. Employees utilising SPL are protected from any detriment, discrimination and unfair dismissal as a result of taking the leave.
What should I have in place as an employer?
SPL is a statutory right for employees that comes with A LOT of admin, so we recommend having a Shared Parental Leave policy in place with template forms for curtailment notices etc to guide you and your employee through the process.
If this is something you would like some support with, get in touch with Lilac HR today 💜