Shared parental leave will entitle mothers and fathers to decide between them how much leave they each are going to take to look after their child when a baby is born/adopted.

The maximum period during which leave can be taken by either parent is 52 weeks, which starts from the first date that leave is taken as shared parental leave/maternity leave. Leave must end completely 52 weeks after the first date leave was taken.

It is quite common for pregnant employees to take some leave before the baby is born. This will be taken as maternity leave because it is not possible to take shared parental leave until the baby is born. The amount of maternity leave the mother takes will count towards the total of 52 weeks that can be taken. For example, the mother may take 6 weeks maternity leave and then convert to shared parental leave. This will leave her with 46 remaining weeks which can be shared with her partner.

The mother is required to take her compulsory maternity leave entitlement. This is a statutory requirement enabling the employee to recover from the birth and is to be taken exclusively by her. Compulsory maternity leave is 2 weeks, unless the mother works in a manual job in a factory in which case it is 4 weeks. This has the effect of actually reducing the amount of leave that can be shared to a total of 50 weeks (48 weeks if compulsory maternity leave is 4 weeks).

If your employee would ordinarily be entitled to take paternity leave in relation to a child, they will still be able to take their 2 week entitlement before taking shared parental leave. Paternity leave is a separate entitlement to shared parental leave and paternity leave does not count towards the total of shared parental leave to be taken.

Example:

  • Baby is due on 4th May 2015
  • Mother starts maternity leave on 6th April 2015
  • Baby is born on 4th May
  • The first 2 weeks after the birth are compulsory maternity leave which cannot be shared;
  • The father takes 2 weeks paternity leave from 4th May 2015
  • Mother had given notice that her maternity leave would end on 14th June 2015 (i.e. 10 weeks maternity leave taken, including 2 weeks compulsory leave)
  • She has 42 weeks of leave remaining which can be shared with her partner.

If you need any clarification on this issue then contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.