Shared Parental Leave – what is it?

Shared Parental Leave is a new legal entitlement for eligible parents of babies due (or children placed for adoption) on or after 5th April 2015.

A recent survey has revealed that more than a third of fathers are forced to use their annual leave, instead of paternity leave, in order to afford to spend time with their new babies. Experts say the statutory rate for paternity leave is too low at £138.18 a week for two weeks.

The basic rules

The amount of Shared Parental Leave is calculated on the mother’s entitlement to maternity leave (52 weeks) and if the mother elects to reduce her entitlement her partner can take the remaining weeks as Shared Parental Leave.

Such leave can be taken together or separately and, whilst it must be taken in full weeks, this can be continuous or discontinuous.

To be eligible the mother must satisfy certain key criteria, namely:

  • She must have a ‘partner’
  • The employee must be entitled to maternity or adoption leave
  • She must give notice that she wishes to reduce her leave

A parent intending to take Shared Parental Leave must:

  • Be an employee
  • There must be shared responsibility for the care of the child
  • There must have continuity of employment – that is, the individual must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the expected due date/matching date and is still working for the employer at the start of each leave period
  • The partner must also satisfy the ‘employment and earnings test’ that is, in the 66 weeks leading up to the expected due date/matching date, the individual has worked for at least 26 weeks and earned an average of at least £30 (as of 2015) in a week in any 13 weeks

Where these criteria are satisfied the employer must grant eligible requests for a continuous period or a discontinuous period, but the mother can share her leave with only one person.

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Have a great weekend


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