Employees can take shared parental leave (SPL) if they are eligible and they or their partner end their maternity or adoption leave or pay early. The remaining leave will be available as SPL. The remaining pay may be available as statutory shared parental pay (ShPP).
Employees entitled to SPL have the statutory right to take SPL in up to three separate blocks (although some employers may permit employees to take leave in more blocks). Employees can also share the leave with their partner if they are also eligible.
It is up to the parents to choose how much of the SPL each of them will take.
For example, a mother could end her maternity leave after 12 weeks, leaving 40 weeks (of the total 52 week entitlement) available for SPL. If both the mother and her partner are eligible, they can share the 40 weeks. They can take the leave at the same time or separately.
SPL and ShPP must be taken between the baby’s birth and first birthday (or within one year of adoption).
Developing a shared parental leave policy
You may wish to develop a policy that sets out the rules and procedures for applying for and taking shared parental leave. Any policy should be fair and consistent and should meet at least the statutory minimum requirements in the legislation.
It would be good practice when drafting or updating any policy to consult with employees or their recognised trade union representatives over the proposed policy as this will help to ensure it works for both employees and the organisation. Once agreed, the policy should be communicated to all employees and managers provided with training.
The Labour Relations Agency has developed a sample shared parental leave policy which you can adapt to suit your business.