Employees may be able to get Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if:

  1. the baby is due on or after 5 April 2015
  2. they adopt a child on or after 5 April 2015
  3. If they’re eligible for SPL they can use it to take leave in blocks separated by periods of work, instead of taking it all in one go.

To start SPL or ShPP the mother must end her maternity leave (for SPL) or her Maternity Allowance or maternity pay (for ShPP). If she doesn’t get maternity leave (but she ends her Maternity Allowance or pay early) her partner might still get SPL.

If they’re adopting then the employee or their partner must end any adoption leave or adoption pay early instead.

If they’re eligible you can take:

  1. the remaining leave as SPL (52 weeks minus any weeks of maternity or adoption leave)
  2. the remaining pay as ShPP (39 weeks minus any weeks of maternity pay, maternity allowance or adoption pay)

If neither of the employee or their partner  is entitled to maternity or adoption leave then SPL will be 52 weeks minus any weeks of maternity pay, Maternity Allowance or adoption pay.

Employees can share SPL and ShPP between them if they’re both eligible.


A mother and her partner are both eligible for SPL and ShPP. The mother ends her maternity leave and pay after 12 weeks, leaving 40 weeks available for SPL and 27 weeks available for ShPP. The parents can choose how to split this.

SPL and ShPP must be taken between the baby’s birth and first birthday (or within one year of adoption).
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Each parent qualifies separately for Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP).

If they’re eligible they can start SPL and take leave in separate blocks, instead of taking it all in one go like maternity or adoption leave. They can also share the leave between them if they’re both eligible.

Shared Parental Leave

To qualify for SPL, employee must share responsibility for the child with one of the following:

  • their husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter
  • the child’s other parent
  • their partner (if they live with you and the child)

The employee or their partner must be eligible for maternity pay or leave, adoption pay or leave or Maternity Allowance.

The employee must also:

  • have been employed continuously by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date (or by the date you’re matched with your adopted child)
  • stay with the same employer while you take SPL

During the 66 weeks before the week the baby’s due (or the week the employee is matched with their adopted child) the employees partner must:

  • have been working for at least 26 weeks (they don’t need to be in a row)
  • have earned at least £390 in total in 13 of the 66 weeks (add up the highest paying weeks, they don’t need to be in a row)

This can be as an employee, worker or self-employed person. The employees partner doesn’t have to be working at the date of birth or when you start SPL or ShPP.
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Statutory Shared Parental Pay

Employees can get ShPP if they’re an employee and one of the following applies:

  • They’re eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP)
  • They’re eligible for Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) and their partner is eligible for SMP, Maternity Allowance (MA) or SAP

Employees can also get ShPP if they’re a worker and they’re eligible for SMP or SPP.
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When SPL or ShPP can start

Employees can only start Shared Parental Leave (SPL) or Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) once the child has been born or placed for adoption. The mother (or the person getting adoption leave or pay) must do one of the following:

  • end any maternity or adoption leave by returning to work
  • give their employer ‘binding notice’ (a decision that can’t normally be changed) of the date when they plan to end any maternity or adoption leave

They must also end any maternity pay, Maternity Allowance or adoption pay. If they don’t get leave (eg they’re an agency worker or self-employed) they must still end any pay.

The mother or adopter must give at least 8 weeks’ notice to their employer (for maternity or adoption pay) or to Jobcentre Plus (for Maternity Allowance) if they haven’t returned to work.

Employees can start SPL or ShPP while their partner is still on maternity or adoption leave and pay as long as they’ve given binding notice to end it.

A mother can’t return to work before the end of the compulsory 2 weeks of maternity leave following the birth (4 weeks if she works in a factory). If they’re adopting the person claiming adoption pay must take at least 2 weeks of adoption leave.


A mother and her partner are both eligible for SPL.  The mother goes on maternity leave 2 weeks before her baby is born. She gives notice to her employer that she’ll take 16 weeks of maternity leave.

Since the mother has given binding notice, her partner can start SPL as soon as the baby has been born (as long as her partner has given at least 8 weeks’ notice to their employer).

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Cancelling the decision to end maternity or adoption leave

The mother or adopter may be able to change their decision to end maternity or adoption leave early if both:

  • the planned end date hasn’t passed
  • they haven’t already returned to work

One of the following must also apply:

  • they find out during the 8-week notice period that neither of them is eligible for SPL or ShPP
  • the mother or adopter’s partner has died
  • the mother tells her employer less than 6 weeks after the birth (and she gave notice before the birth)

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What the employee may receive

If the employee is eligible and they or their partner end maternity or adoption leave and pay (or Maternity Allowance) early, then the employee can:

  • take the rest of the 52 weeks of maternity or adoption leave as Shared Parental Leave (SPL)
  • take the rest of the 39 weeks of maternity or adoption pay (or Maternity Allowance) as Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)

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ShPP is paid at the rate of £139.58 a week or 90% of the employees average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

This is the same as Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) except that during the first 6 weeks SMP is paid at 90% of whatever the employee earns (with no maximum).


A woman decides to start her maternity leave 4 weeks before the due date and gives notice that she’ll start SPL from 10 weeks after the birth (taking a total of 14 weeks maternity leave). She normally earns £200 a week.  She’s paid £180 (90% of her average weekly earnings) as SMP for the first 6 weeks of maternity leave, then £139.58 a week for the next 8 weeks. Once she goes onto SPL, she’s still paid £139.58 a week.

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Booking blocks of leave

Employees can book up to 3 separate blocks of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) instead of taking it all in one go, even if they aren’t sharing the leave with their partner.

If their partner is also eligible for SPL, the employee can take up to 3 blocks of leave each. The employee can take leave at different times or both at the same time.

The employee must tell their employer about their plans for leave when they apply for SPL. Employees can change these plans later but they must give their employer at least 8 weeks’ notice before they want to begin a block of leave.

Splitting blocks of leave

If the employer agrees, employees can split blocks into shorter periods of at least a week.


A mother finishes her maternity leave at the end of October and takes the rest of her leave as SPL. She shares it with her partner, who’s also eligible. They each take the whole of November as their first blocks of SPL. The partner then returns to work.

The mother also returns to work in December. She gives her employer notice that she’ll go on leave again in February – this is her second block of SPL. Her employer agrees to a work pattern of 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off during the block.

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Shared Parental Leave in touch days

The employee and their partner can each work up to 20 days while they’re taking SPL. These are called ‘Shared Parental Leave in touch’ (or SPLIT) days.

These days are in addition to the 10 ‘keeping in touch’ days available to those on maternity or adoption leave.