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How to make a Shared parental leave policy

Use this shared parental leave policy to set out and notify staff and managers about the shared parental leave system.

This document is GDPR compliant.

Shared parental leave (SPL) allows parents to share time off work to care for their child during its first year of life.

It allows eligible mothers to exchange their maternity allowance for SPL. SPL allows eligible parents to choose how to share time off work after their child is born and allows for a more flexible arrangement. For more information, read Shared parental leave.

A shared parental leave policy is a document that sets out and explains the entitlements to shared parental leave and pay.

This document gives parents or guardians a sense of flexibility at work without being penalised. 

Ensure that your staff know when shared parental leave can be taken as well as when they have to return to work after leave. Use this shared parental leave policy to inform staff and managers of their responsibilities during this process.

Use this shared parental leave policy to inform staff and managers about:

  • the statutory shared parental leave regime

  • who is entitled to UK shared parental leave

  • who is entitled to UK shared parental pay

Note that this is not a Parental leave policy.

For more information about different types of family leave, read Family leave and rights.

This shared parental leave policy covers:

  • what shared parental leave is
  • who is eligible for shared parental leave
  • when shared parental leave can be taken
  • notification and booking requirements
  • statutory shared parental pay and enhanced payments, if applicable
  • rights during shared parental leave
  • returning to work after leave

An SPL policy ensures that your staff are up-to-date on when shared parental leave can be taken as well as the notification requirements. It ensures consistency when making and responding to notifications from employees regarding SPL.

To qualify for SPL, an employee must share parental responsibility for the child with: 

  • their spouse or civil partner

  • their joint adopter 

  • the child's other parent 

  • their partner if they live with the employee and the child

The mother must also be entitled to maternity/adoption leave, or to statutory maternity/adoption pay and have given notice to reduce her allowance in exchange for SPL.

The parent who intends to take SPL must also be an employee, share the primary responsibility for the child and have properly notified their employer of their entitlement.

Employees must also have:

  • worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the week the child is due (and still be working for the employer when they start SPL)

  • earned at least £390 in total across any 13 of the 66 weeks (the 13 weeks do not have to be in a row)

For more information, read Shared parental leave.

SPL can be taken at any time from the end of the two-week compulsory maternity leave period (which increases to four weeks for factory workers) up to 52 weeks from the date of birth (ie up to the child's first birthday).

This depends on how much maternity leave the mother has already taken. As the first two weeks of maternity leave must be taken by the mother (of four weeks if the mother is a factory worker), a mother can create up to 50 (or 48) weeks’ worth of SPL.

A notice to take SPL must be submitted at least eight weeks before any period of leave would begin. This must be in writing, dated and clearly set out what leave the employee intends to take.

Shared parental leave must be taken in weekly blocks and can be taken in a single block or in separate blocks if agreed by the employer. An employee can make at least three requests to book or vary SPL but must notify their employer of their right and book the leave with at least eight weeks' notice. 

SPLIT days enable each parent to work up to 20 days whilst taking SPL. They are optional and must be agreed upon by the employee and employer. Read Shared parental leave for more information.

Once a mother has given notice to end maternity leave and either parent has informed their employer of their entitlement to take SPL, the notice to end maternity leave is binding and cannot be withdrawn. There are only specific times SPL can be withdrawn which are:

  • within 8 weeks of the mother submitting notice to end their maternity leave, it transpires that neither parent qualifies for SPL
  • when notice was given before birth, it may be withdrawn without a reason up to six weeks following the birth
  • the mother's partner dies

For more information, read Shared parental leave.

The statutory ShPP is available if an employee meets all the eligibility criteria. A mother (including an adoptive or surrogate mother with parental responsibility for the child) must:

  • be entitled to 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay (SMP), statutory adoption pay (SAP) or maternity allowance (MA), and
  • must reduce the number of weeks she is paid SMP, SAP or MA

This means the maximum ShPP a father or partner of the mother can take is 37 weeks while taking SPL.

ShPP is the lower of 90% of an employee's pay and the minimum rate set by the Government each tax year (£156.66 a week as of April 2022). An employee will only qualify for ShPP if they qualify for SPL.

For more information, read Shared parental leave.

Although there is no need to offer an enhanced ShPP, many employers consider enhanced (or ‘contractual’) ShPP a valuable part of their benefits package. It can help attract and retain good employees and boosts staff morale and loyalty.

Employers do not have to offer enhanced ShPP if they offer contractual maternity pay, however, if the employer does offer enhanced ShPP it must be offered to male and female employees who take SPL.

The employee is entitled to return to the exact same job on the same terms and conditions that they were doing immediately before they took SPL. You must not subject your employee to discriminatory or unfair treatment.

Ask a lawyer for further advice when:

  • adoption or surrogacy arrangements are needed
  • a mother withdraws her notice to curtail maternity leave
  • allegations of discrimination are made in connection with shared parental leave

This shared parental leave policy is governed by the law (eg the Employment Rights Act 1996) of England and Wales or the law of Scotland.

Other names for Shared parental leave policy

Shared parental leave procedure, SPL policy, Shared parental leave policy template.