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Shared Parental Leave - what you need to know

Shared Parental Leave

SPL came into effect for babies due from 5 April, 2015 - here’s what you need to know.

The new shared parental leave system will give eligible parents more choice and freedom in how they share the care of their child for the first year.

The aim of the new system is to give both parents a chance to stay linked to their workplace, and also to encourage fathers to play a greater role in the early stages of their child’s life.

Shared parental leave and pay comes into effect for babies due from 5 April 2015, or adoptions where the child is placed on or after 5 April 2015.

You will need to give your employers at least eight weeks’ notice if you wish to take Shared Parental Leave

Employed mums will continue to be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave and 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance (if they are eligible for pay/allowance). If you choose to do so, you can end your maternity leave early (after the first two weeks after your baby’s birth) and share any remaining parental leave with your partner.

Parents don’t have to take all of their Shared Parental Leave at the same time. You are entitled to take it in up to three blocks (each block must be a minimum of a week) and return to work in between, more if your employer agrees.

New mums must take at least two weeks off work following their child’s birth. Their partners can still take two weeks paternity leave after the birth, and SPL will usually begin after this.

Top tips for working out Shared Parental Leave

  • The first thing to do is make sure you are eligible for SPL
  • Talk to your partner before speaking to your employer. The combinations are flexible so make sure they fit around your life and work for you as a couple. Maybe you want to double up in the early days for extra support or you might decide to tag-team halfway through – the choice is yours.
  • Have the conversation with your employer as early as you can. The sooner you do, the easier it will be to make plans for your time away from the work. Remember you have to give your employer at least eight weeks’ notice of your intention to take SPL. 
  • Check to see if your employer offers an enhanced package (a package over and above statutory), and if they do, what type of package it is.
  • Most importantly, know your rights. No employers can opt out of Shared Parental Leave if you are eligible.

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