Shared parental leave and pay

Shared Parental Leave will enable eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or adopted. This could involve returning to work for part of the time and then resuming leave at a later date.

Key points

  • Qualifying mothers and adopters continue to be entitled to Maternity and Adoption rights but they may also be able to choose to end this early and exchange it for Shared Parental Leave and Pay. They and their named partner will then need to decide how they want to share this new entitlement
  • Two weeks of paid Paternity Leave continues to be available to qualifying fathers and the partner of a mother or adopter. However, Shared Parental Leave has replaced the Additional Paternity Leave entitlement
  • These regulations came into force on 1 December 2014 and apply to eligible parents where a baby is due, or adoption, on or after 5 April 2015

How Shared Parental Leave works

Shared Parental Leave is designed to give parents more flexibility in how to share the care of their child in the first year following birth or adoption. Parents will be able to share a pot of leave, and can decide to be off work at the same time and/or take it in turns to have periods of leave to look after the child.

To qualify for Statutory Shared Parental Pay a parent must pass the continuity of employment test and have earned an average salary of the lower earnings limit of £111 for the 8 weeks prior to the 15th week before the expected due date or matching date. The other parent in the family must meet the employment and earnings test.

  • Continuity of employment test: the person must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the week in which the child is due (or at the week in which an adopter was notified of having been matched with a child or adoption) and is still employed in the first week that Shared Parental Leave is to be taken.
  • Employment and earnings test: the person must have worked for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to the due date and have earned above the maternity allowance threshold of £30 week in 13 of the 66 weeks.

Where both parents satisfy these tests they will both be able to share the leave. However, a family can still use Shared Parental Leave even when only one parent actually meets the eligibility criteria. For example, a self-employed parent will not be entitled to take Shared Parental Leave but they could still pass the employment and earnings test allowing the other parent in the family to qualify.

The mother or adopter decides whether to keep taking their maternity or adoption entitlement or to use Shared Parental Leave. If they choose to use Shared Parental Leave, they can end their entitlement or give advance notice to curtail it. This advance notice means their partner could begin to take Shared Parental Leave while the mother or adopter is still on maternity or adoption leave.

Shared Parental Leave may be taken at any time within the period which begins on the date the child is born/date of the placement and ends 52 weeks after that date. An employee is entitled to submit three separate notices to book leave. Leave must be taken in complete weeks and may be taken either in a continuous period, which an employer cannot refuse, or in a discontinuous period, which the employer can refuse. If a request for discontinuous leave is refused then the total amount of leave requested in the notice will automatically become a continuous block unless it is withdrawn.

Shared Parental Pay

Statutory Shared Parental Pay is paid at £139.58 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

If the mother or adopter curtails their entitlement to maternity/adoption pay or maternity allowance before they have used their full entitlement then Statutory Shared Parental Pay can be claimed for any remaining weeks.

To qualify for Statutory Shared Parental Pay a parent must pass the continuity of employment test and have earned an average salary of the lower earnings limit of £111 for the 8 weeks prior to the 15th week before the expected due date or matching date. The other parent in the family must meet the employment and earnings test.

Maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay

For information on maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay see:

Notification of Shared Parental Leave and pay

If an employee wishes to take Shared Parental Leave they must notify their employer of their entitlement at least eight weeks before the start of any Shared Parental Leave starts.

It is good practice for an employer to confirm they have received and accept this notification.

Each eligible parent can give their employer up to 3 separate notices booking or varying leave, although it must be given at least eight weeks before the leave is due to start. Each notice can be for a block of leave, or the notice may be for a pattern of “discontinuous” leave involving different periods of leave. If a parent asks for a continuous block of leave the employer is required to agree to it. However, where the notification is for discontinuous blocks of leave the employer can refuse and require that the total weeks of leave in the notice be taken in a single continuous block. It is therefore beneficial for the employee and employer to discuss and attempt to agree a way in which the different blocks of leave can be taken.

Note: to be eligible for Shared Parental Leave, at least one parent must submit a booking when they notify their employer of their entitlement

Discuss your intentions sooner rather than later

Having an early and informal discussion can provide an opportunity for both the employee and employer to talk about their preference regarding when Shared Parental Leave is taken. Employers can use this discussion as an opportunity to point out the different options such as maternity, paternity leave (or adoption leave), and can ensure the employee is aware of their statutory rights or any contractual schemes the employer has in place. It can also be an opportunity to discuss when any discontinuous leave can be best accommodated.

Once a notification for a period of leave has been received an employer may wish to consider:

  • is the notification for leave one continuous block or two or more weeks of discontinuous leave?
  • what cover will be needed for the employee’s absence?
  • will a discussion with the employee be beneficial at this time?
  • is any modification to a discontinuous leave request necessary?


Depending on the circumstances involved, there are four outcomes available to an employer once they have received, considered and discussed a Shared Parental Leave notification. It is important to note an employer cannot refuse a notification for continuous leave.

A) Confirm a continuous leave period or accept a discontinuous leave request.

B) Agree a modification to a leave request (an employee is under no obligation to modify a continuous leave notice and should never be put under any pressure to do so).

C) Refuse a discontinuous leave notification.

D) Whilst it is not good practice and should be avoided, it is possible for an employer to make no response to a leave notification.

For outcomes C and D above, the employee can withdraw their notification on or before the 15th day after the notification was originally made and it will not count as one of their three notifications. If not, they must take the total amount of leave notified in one continuous block. The employee can choose when this leave period will begin within 19 days of the date the notification was given to the employer but it cannot start sooner than the initial notified start date. If they don’t, the leave will begin on the starting date stated in the original notification.

Developing a policy

Employers may wish to develop a policy that sets out the rules and procedures for applying for and taking Shared Parental Leave. Any policy should be fair and consistent, and should meet at least the statutory minimum requirements in the legislation.

It would be good practice when drafting or updating any policy to consult with employees over the proposed policy as this will help to ensure it works for both employees and the organisation. Once agreed the policy should be communicated to all employees and managers given training.

Some organisations offer enhanced maternity rights, giving mothers maternity pay above the statutory minimum, for example 26 weeks’ full pay. Organisations may wish to “mirror” their maternity enhancements in any Shared Parental Leave policy. There is no established statutory requirement to mirror occupational maternity schemes when a Shared Parental Leave scheme is established. The important thing is that within a Shared Parental Leave scheme, men and women are treated equally and paid at the same rate in the same circumstances.

Acas Shared Parental Leave training

Acas has scheduled training sessions for employers to help them better understand Shared Parental Leave.

The training covers.

  • Who qualifies for shared parental leave and pay?
  • Notifying the employer and booking shared parental leave and pay
  • When and how shared parental leave and pay can be taken
  • How to discuss plans and agree patterns of leave with qualifying employees
  • How to respond to requests for shared parental leave and pay
  • How to deal with requests to change patterns of leave
  • Developing a policy and rules to manage the process