Shared parental leave and pay guide for employers

Pregnant lady at work with colleagues

It’s essential as an employer to offer your employees flexibility and fairness around parental leave. While there’s often a lot of excitement around a new arrival, there can also be a lot of stress when it comes to the logistics of time off work. 

Making sure you support your employees as much as you can to find the best solution for them – such as Shared Parental Leave (SPL) – is going to be so much better for business in the long run, reducing the chance of things like disengaged employees, staff leaving, and even discrimination-based tribunal claims. 

With SPL, parents can choose to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between them in the 12 months after their child is born or, if adopted, placed with the families.

So let’s dive into the ins and outs of shared parental leave and pay guide for employers, ensuring you’ve got all your bases covered. Our guide covers:


  • What is Shared Parental Leave?
  • What are the benefits? 
  • Who is eligible for Shared Parental Leave? 
  • How much pay do you get for SPL?
  • The process for taking Shared Parental Leave
  • Shared Parental Leave policies

What is shared parental leave? 

SPL is a relatively new option that allows parents to share the leave they take after having a baby. It was introduced in 2014 and the idea is to offer families more flexibility in their approach to childcare and work. It means that parents can split the time they take off work after their child’s birth or adoption. 

Companies are bound by statutory rules, but hey, if you want to offer your own policy with even more flexibility, we fully support that idea! For example, some businesses have brought in policies and contractual provisions to let SPL be taken in more blocks than the three per parent offered as standard.

Why SPL is important


  • Offers flexibility for parents
  • It lets parents be more involved during the crucial early months
  • Can help businesses be seen as more family-friendly, which can help with recruitment and retention

According to the government’s own report into the success of SPL (carried out this year), parents have reported benefits for their work-life balance, including providing more choice and flexibility over balancing work and caring arrangements and encouraging parents to share childcare responsibilities. 

Employers have also said that Shared Parental Leave has benefits like increased flexibility for parents and helping with staff recruitment and retention. Take-up rates so far have been in line with predictions made when the policy was introduced: 5% of employee fathers and 1% of employee mothers report taking SPL.

Who is eligible for shared parental leave? 

To get straight to the point, not everyone qualifies. There are certain criteria that must be met:


  • The employee or their partner must qualify for either statutory maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance.
  • They must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 continuous weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due week of childbirth.

Employees must share responsibility for the care of the child with either:


  • Their husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter.
  • The child’s other parent.
  • Their partner (they must live with them)
  • They have to give you notice, including details like proof of eligibility. 
  • When it comes to income, 66 weeks before the child’s due date or adoption matching date, the other parent must have worked for a minimum of 26 weeks and they must have earned a minimum of £30 a week on average in any 13 weeks.

There are a few more specific requirements, but these are the big ones. Parents can choose how they split the parental leave between them. Remember, they’ve got 50 weeks’ leave and 37 weeks’ pay to play with.

What is shared parental leave pay? 

This is normally one of the first things we get asked – and it tends to change every year, as with most statutory payments. 

As of April 2023, the shared parental leave pay rate is £172.48 a week or 90% of an employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. SPL pay is the same rate as statutory maternity pay, although during the first six weeks, SMP is paid at 90% of the employee’s salary.

You as the employer are legally obliged to pay this, but you may be able to recover a certain amount of it.

What is the process for taking shared parental leave? 

Taking SPL is not a simple “I’ll take tomorrow off” thing. There are specific steps to be followed:

Curtailment notice


  • The employed mother or primary adopter must give notice that they’re cutting short (curtailing) their maternity or adoption leave to switch to SPL. 
  • The maternity or adoption leave can be curtailed by giving eight weeks’ notice to you, as the employer.

Written notice of entitlement to shared parental leave and pay


  • They should tell you that they’re qualified for shared parental leave and/or shared parental leave pay and provide the notice at least eight weeks before the shared parental leave or pay can be taken. 
  • This notice needs to be pretty detailed, specifying:
  • The number of weeks that the mother or primary adopter has taken as maternity or adoption leave (or will have taken, if the notice is given to curtail the leave on a specific date in the future)
  • How many weeks of shared parental leave and pay is available to the employee and their partner
  • How much parental leave each person intends to take.
  • A declaration from the employee’s partner that they meet the employment earnings test.
  • A non-binding indication of how the employee will take the shared parental leave available to them.

Booking notice

Booking notice is all about the specifics. This is where parents inform their employer of the exact weeks they’ll be taking off under SPL. It’s not just a formality – it’s a crucial step in the SPL process and must be given at least eight weeks before the leave can be taken.

Employees have the statutory right to give their employer three notices to book leave or to vary a previously agreed pattern of leave. If the notification is for a single block of leave, they’re entitled to take it and you can’t refuse it. If the pattern is for a period of discontinuous leave, you don’t have to agree to it – but it’s probably worth exploring flexibility if you can.

Shared parental leave policies

If you’re an employer and don’t already have an SPL policy, it’s time to get on board. This policy should detail what you offer, how parents can request SPL, and the steps involved. Having a clear policy helps everyone involved and ensures there are no misunderstandings. 

Why is a shared parental leave policy important? 

For one, it’s a sign that your business values and supports its employees. Plus, a well-detailed policy ensures your business remains compliant with employment laws and can be a positive mark on your company’s reputation. After all, who wouldn’t want to work for a company that’s proactive about workers’ rights?

HR & Employment Law support whenever you need it

Understanding shared parental leave is crucial, but it’s just a slice of the HR & Employment Law pie. With services like Citation’s all-in-one HR & Employment Law package, you can benefit from 24/7 expert HR advice, key HR documentation created for you (including contracts and policies), tribunal protection and representation, and even an online HR management hub. Let HR become a breeze. Simply fill in the form on this page, contact us here, or call 0345 844 1111 for your free, no-obligation quote. 

If you’re up for some more reading, check out our resources on topics like paternity leave and pay and maternity leave and pay

To all the employers out there, remember, supporting new parents isn’t just good business sense – it’s the right thing to do. By understanding shared parental leave and staying compliant, you’re taking a big step toward fostering a supportive and inclusive work environment.

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