Starting Shared Parental Leave and Pay

If you have a baby (including through surrogacy, where you are a ‘Parental Order Parent’) or adopt a child, you and your partner might be entitled to Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Pay in your child’s first year. You can work up to 20 days when you're getting SPL.

Ending Maternity or Adoption Leave and Pay

You or your partner can only start Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and pay (ShPP) once the child is born or adopted. The mother or adopter (including a Parental Order Parent who has qualified for statutory adoption leave/pay) must have either:

  • ended any statutory maternity leave/pay or statutory adoption leave/pay or maternity allowance by returning to work or
  • given 'binding notice' of at least 8 weeks (a decision that can't normally be changed) to their employer of the date when they plan to end any statutory maternity leave/pay or statutory adoption leave/pay, or to the Social Security Agency of when they plan to end Maternity Allowance

If you are a mother you must take a minimum of two weeks statutory maternity leave/pay or maternity allowance (4 weeks if you are a factory worker). In the same way, if you are an adopter you must take a minimum of two weeks adoption leave/pay.

Your partner can start SPL/ShPP while you are still on statutory maternity leave/pay,  statutory adoption leave/pay or maternity allowance as long as you have given binding notice to end them.

Note, however, that to qualify for SPL or ShPP you must fulfil the relevant requirements.

Example of taking Shared Parental Leave

A mother and their partner are both eligible for SPL.

The mother goes on maternity leave 10 weeks before their baby is born. The mother will take 16 weeks of maternity leave and gives her employer notice.

Since the mother has given binding notice, their partner can start SPL as soon as the baby has been born (as long as they’ve given at least eight weeks’ notice).

Telling your employer

You must give your employer written notice of your entitlement to SPL and ShPP, including:

  • your partner's name
  • start and end dates for maternity or adoption leave and pay
  • the total amount of SPL and ShPP available and how much you and your partner plan to take
  • confirmation that you're sharing childcare responsibility with your partner

You must also include a signed declaration from your partner stating:

  • their name, address and National Insurance number
  • that they satisfy the qualifying requirements for SPL and ShPP
  • that they agree to you taking SPL and ShPP
  • Shared Parental Leave and Pay

After receiving this notice, your employer has 14 days if they want to ask for:

  • a copy of the child's birth certificate
  • the name and address of your partner's employer

You must provide this within 14 days.

Notice period

You must give at least eight weeks’ notice of any leave you want to take.

If the child is born more than eight weeks early, this notice period can be shorter.

Cancelling the decision to end maternity or adoption leave

You may be able to change your decision to end maternity or adoption leave early if:

  • the planned end date hasn't passed
  • you haven't already returned to work

One of the following must also apply:

  • you find out during the eight-week notice period that neither of you is eligible for SPL or ShPP
  • your partner has died
  • the mother tells her employer less than six weeks after the birth and she gave notice before the birth

Shared parental leave in touch (SPLIT) days

You and your partner can both work up to 20 days during SPL. These are ‘shared parental leave in touch’ (or SPLIT) days.

These days don't count as the 10 ‘keeping in touch’ (or KIT) days available to people on maternity or adoption leave.

Keeping in touch days are optional. Both you and your employer must agree the days.

Blocks of leave

You can book up to three separate blocks of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) instead of taking it all at once, even if you aren’t sharing the leave with your partner.

If your partner is eligible for SPL, you can take leave at different times - or both at the same time.

You must give your employer at least eight weeks’ notice before you want to begin a block of leave.

Splitting blocks

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

Example of splitting Shared Parental Leave 

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

The mother returns to work in December. They give their employer notice that they'll go on leave again in February. This is the mother's second block of SPL. Their employer agrees to a working pattern of two weeks on, two weeks off during the block.

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