Law guide: Employment

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Applying for shared parental leave

Applying for shared parental leave

Contents

Introduction to applying for shared parental leave

Employees who are entitled to shared parental leave can take up to 50 weeks off (or 48 weeks off if the mother works in a factory) to help care for a child after the mother takes her period of compulsory maternity leave.

To receive SPL, a child's mother must first end her maternity leave or pay, or maternity allowance early. The employee must do this by either returning to work or giving you a written notice.

The employee must first apply to take SPL by giving you a notice.

Employees can take SPL in a single continuous (unbroken) block or as discontinuous (split) blocks.

The employee must give you another written notice, stating the periods of leave they wish to book or change (if it's already booked).

Adoptions

Adoption can include a child adopted from a surrogate mother where a couple have applied for a parental order. It also includes foster children who are adopted under the 'Fostering for Adoption' scheme run by local authorities. The qualifying requirements and application process set out below are the same for parents adopting a child in the UK.

In this article, any references to the following can be substituted in this way:

  • 'main adopter' for 'mother';
  • 'adoption leave' for 'maternity leave';
  • 'adoption pay' for 'maternity pay';
  • 'match date' for 'child's expected week of birth' and
  • 'placement date' for 'child's date of birth'.

Qualifying for shared parental leave

In order to be eligible for SPL, the employee and their partner must meet the following criteria.

Relationship to the child

The employee must care for and have the main responsibility for the upbringing of the child with:

  • their spouse or civil partner;
  • their partner (if the partner lives with the employee and the child; this includes same-sex relationships); or
  • the child's other parent.

Employment

The employee must be:

  • employed continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (includes employees entering a surrogacy arrangement); and
  • employed by you up to the week before the SPL is taken.

The employee's partner must have:

  • worked in Great Britain (as an employee, self-employed person or an agency worker) for at least 26 weeks in a 66-week period up to the expected week of childbirth; and
  • earned no less than the maternity allowance threshold in 13 of those 66 weeks (see Gov.uk for this amount).

This is known as the 'employment and earnings' test.

Other criteria

The child's mother must be entitled to maternity leave or pay, or maternity allowance, and must have returned to work or given their employer a notice to end this leave or pay. The employee must also provide the necessary notices and declarations set out below (under 'Information' and 'Declarations') and any evidence that you might request.

What is the expected week of childbirth?

The 'expected week of childbirth' is the week in which the expected date of the baby's birth falls, starting on a Sunday and ending the following Saturday.

How employees must apply for SPL and SSPP

Your employee must give you a written notice of their entitlement to take SPL and/or SSPP. It must contain the information described under 'Information' and 'Declarations' below.

Information

The notice must contain the following information:

  • The employee's name
  • Their partner's name
  • The start and end dates of maternity leave that has been (or will be) taken (or maternity pay or maternity allowance periods if the mother does not qualify for maternity leave)
  • The total amount of SPL and SSPP that is available, and how much the employee and their partner want to take (the SPL dates can either be estimated or fixed dates)
  • The expected week of childbirth
  • The child's date of birth (if the child is unborn, this must be given as soon a reasonably possible and, in any event, before the employee starts any SPL or being paid SSPP)

Declarations

The employee's notice must also contain the following declarations:

If your employee is the mother

  • She fulfils or will fulfil the statutory qualifying criteria for SPL and (if being claimed) SSPP.
  • That the information given in the notice is accurate.
  • She will immediately inform you if she no longer cares for her child.
  • If SSPP is being claimed, she will immediately inform you if the period of her maternity pay stops reducing
  • If SSPP is being claimed, the date that her maternity pay or maternity allowance began and by how many weeks it is, or will be, reduced.

Her partner's declaration must state:

  • Their name, address and National Insurance number.
  • That they fulfil or will fulfil the 'employment and earnings' test.
  • That they (together with the mother) have the main responsibility for the upbringing of the child when the child is born.
  • That they are the child's father or parent, or the mother's spouse, civil partner or partner.
  • That they agree to the amount of SPL and/or SSPP that they both want to take.
  • That they consent to you processing the information contained in their declaration.

If your employee is the child's father or other parent

  • They fulfil or will fulfil the statutory qualifying criteria for SPL and (if being claimed) SSPP.
  • The information given in the notice is accurate.
  • They are the child's father or parent, or the mother's spouse, civil partner or partner
  • They will immediately inform you if they no longer care for the child or if the child's mother informs them that she is no longer entitled to maternity leave, statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance or has withdrawn their notice to end it.
  • If SSPP is being claimed, they will immediately inform you if the child's mother informs them that their maternity pay or maternity allowance period is not reducing.

Their partner's declaration must state:

  • Their name, address and National Insurance number.
  • That they fulfil or will fulfil the 'employment and earnings' test.
  • They (together with their partner) have the main responsibility for the upbringing of the child when the child is born.
  • That they are entitled to maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance and have either returned to work or given notice to their employer to end it.
  • If SSPP is being claimed, the date on which their maternity pay or maternity allowance began and by how many weeks it is, or will be, reduced.
  • If SSPP is being claimed, that their maternity pay or maternity allowance period is, and continues to be, reducing and they will immediately inform their partner if this is not the case.
  • That they will immediately inform their partner if they are no longer entitled to maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance or have withdrawn their notice to end it.
  • That they consent to the amount of SPL that they both intend to take and to their partner's intended claim for SSPP, if any.
  • That they consent to you processing the information contained in their declaration.

When the employee must give you notice

The employee must give the notice and declarations at least 8 weeks before they want to take SPL and SSPP. If the employee is the child's mother it must be given at the same time as her notice to end her maternity leave or pay, or maternity allowance. This also applies if her partner has already given their employer a notice and declaration. If the employee is the partner, the notice and declarations must contain the mother's declaration.

Asking for evidence

In certain circumstances, you have a right to ask your employee for certain evidence. After receiving the employee's notice, you have 14 days if you want to ask for:

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

If a birth certificate hasn't been issued, the employee must give a written declaration stating this, as well the date and location of the child's birth. If the employee's partner hasn't got an employer, the employee must also give you a written declaration stating this. The employee must sign the declarations.

The employee must provide the evidence or written declaration(s) within 14 days.