From 5th April 2015 mothers can choose to end their maternity leave and share the remaining statutory allowance with their partner.
Shared parental leave is also available to parents who adopt a child. This document uses the terms maternity and mother. The terms of adoption and parent can be substituted throughout. Where there is a different requirement in the case of adoption this will be specifically mentioned. Otherwise it should be assumed that the information discussed here is relevant to both the birth of a child and the adoption of a child.
What is shared parental leave?
A mother who is eligible for maternity leave and maternity pay can choose to end her maternity leave early and convert the remaining maternity leave and maternity pay into Shared Parental Leave (SPL). This leave can then be taken by either parent.
How much leave can be taken?
A mother has the right to 52 weeks maternity leave (provided she is eligible) the first 39 weeks of which are eligible for maternity pay. Once the mother returns to work the unused maternity leave and pay can be taken as SPL.
Who qualifies for shared parental leave?
To be eligible for SPL the mother must be eligible for maternity leave, maternity allowance or adoption pay. She must have worked continuously for the same employer for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due. She must also give the relevant notice to be eligible for SPL. Use our flowchart to determine if the mother is eligible*.
How do we know if the partner is eligible?
The employee requesting to convert maternity pay and leave to shared parental leave will need to confirm this on the Intent to Take Shared Leave form*. The partner must have worked for a least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to the due date and also have earned at least £30 a week on average over 13 of those weeks. They must also be employed by one employer for the whole duration of shared paternity.
How much is paid for someone on shared parental leave?
The rate paid is determined by the government in April each year. View the current SMP and other rates here.
Managing the Shared Parental Leave process
- The mother must write to the employer to state that she wishes to end her maternity leave and convert it to Statutory Parental Leave (SPL). Certain pieces of information need to be provided by the mother. This Intent to take shared leave form* includes all the data the mother needs to provide.
- The employer should acknowledge the intent to take SPL (Letter to acknowledge intent to take SPL*). This must be done within 14 days of receipt of the written intent. Where the mother has not provided the correct information use the form to gather this data. The mother has 14 days to respond to this request.
- Provided the mother or partner is eligible, agree the leave period and log the details* of the SPL dates and any Shared Leave Pay (ShPP).
Managing blocks of leave
There is a statutory right to split the leave into three blocks. Both parents can take leave at the same time, or at different times. An employer can’t refuse the leave if the person is eligible and they provide the correct notice.
Employers are able to grant shorter blocks of leave (minimum of one week) if they wish.
When can shared parental leave and shared parental pay be taken?
SPL and ShPP can only be taken following the birth of the baby and before the child’s first birthday. When parents adopt a child the leave must be taken within one year of the date of adoption.
Record Keeping and reclaiming payments from HMRC
It is important to keep records for three years from the end of the tax year to which they relate. This is an HMRC requirement. The evidence that must be held is:
- the evidence provided by the employee to prove eligibility for ShPP;
- the date on which ShPP began;
- the ShPP payments, the dates to which they refer and the date paid;
- the ShPP reclaimed by the firm
- any weeks where SHpp was not paid and the reason for this.
ShPP can be reclaimed in the same way that other statutory payments are reclaimed. Where firms qualify for small employer’s relief 100% of the cost plus 3% NIC contribution can be reclaimed. In all other cases the amount to be reclaimed is 92%.
- * These documents are only available to SUPPORT clients.