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Key questions about shared parental leave and shared parental pay

Posted on 23rd July 2014
New legislation

Shared parental leave and shared parental pay is, in effect, shared maternity leave and shared maternity pay. Below you will find the answers to some key questions.

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Shared parental leave and shared parental pay is, in effect, a right to share maternity leave and maternity pay

Who can take shared parental leave?

Subject to eligibility requirements (below):

1. The mother (or expectant mother) of a child;

2. The father of a child; or

3. The person who is married to, or the civil partner or the partner of, the mother providing they are in an enduring family relationship and not a relative.

Which 'child' does shared parental leave apply to?

The right to shared parental leave arises in relation to a child:

1. with an expected week of childbirth on or after 5 April 2015; or

2. whose placement for adoption is notified on or after 5 April 2015; or

3. who is placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015.

What are the eligibility requirements?

Anyone wishing to take shared parental leave must:

1. be an employee;

2. have been continuously employed for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (or the week a match for adoption is notified);

3. still be employed the week before any period of shared parental leave;

4. have, or expect to have, the main responsibility for care of the child (apart from any partner); and

5. (in the case of the father or partner) satisfy an average weekly earnings test.

What will be the rate of shared parental pay?

The rate of statutory shared parental pay will be the same as statutory maternity pay (currently a maximum of £138.18 per week). If, however, you pay enhanced maternity pay during any period of maternity leave you need to carefully consider how you will deal with periods of shared parental leave and pay. If you do not pay employees taking shared parental leave the same enhanced rate of pay they could successfully claim they are being discriminated against. This risk follows a European case, Alvarez, dealing with additional paternity leave that we featured back in 2010.

What about surrogacy?

Individuals involved in certain surrogacy arrangements may also be entitled to shared parental leave and shared parental pay. Speak to one of our specialist employment law solicitors if you want to find out more.

What is happening to maternity leave?

Maternity leave rights are unaffected but they can be 'curtailed' or cut short and maternity leave and pay replaced with shared parental leave and pay.

What is happening to paternity leave?

Nothing. This is unchanged.

What is happening to parental leave?

Parents will retain the right to unpaid parental leave of 18 weeks per child, but from 5 April 2015 parents will be able to take parental leave in respect of children up to the age of 18 (rising from age five).

Continuous and discountinuous leave

Where an employee requests one continuous period of shared parental leave, this must be agreed.  Where an employee requests “discontinuous” periods of leave (i.e. separate periods of leave at different times), the employer may:
  • agree the request
  • propose alternative dates
  • refuse the request.
If an employer refuses the request and the parties are unable to reach agreement on alternative dates, the employee can take the total amount of leave requested in the notice as one continuous period of leave, unless they withdraw the request. 

For details about key dates in the run up to shared parental leave and an overview of shared parental leave 2015 follow the links.

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