For shared parental leave (SPL) to begin, the mother or adopter must do one of the following:
- end their maternity or adoption leave by returning to work
- give you ‘binding notice’ (a decision that cannot normally be changed) of the date when they will end their maternity or adoption leave
- end maternity pay or maternity allowance (if they are not entitled to maternity leave, eg they are an agency worker or self-employed)
Compulsory maternity leave
A mother cannot return to work before the end of the compulsory two weeks of maternity leave following the birth (four if she works in a factory).
The mother must give you at least eight weeks' notice to end her maternity pay, or the Social Security Agency at least eight weeks' notice, to end her maternity allowance.
Adopters must give you notice to end adoption pay.
SPL can start for the partner while the mother or adopter is still on maternity or adoption leave if she gives binding notice to end her leave (or pay if she’s not entitled to leave).
For example, a mother and her partner are both eligible for SPL. The mother goes on maternity leave ten weeks before her baby is born. She decides that she will take 16 weeks of maternity leave and gives you notice.
Since the mother has given binding notice, her partner can start SPL as soon as the baby has been born (as long as the partner has given at least eight weeks’ notice).