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Shared parental leave and pay

The right to shared parental leave, UK, is governed by the Shared parental leave and leave curtailment (amendment) regulations 2015.
A woman who is eligible for shared parental leave has the right to bring her maternity leave and pay period to an end early and convert the outstanding period of maternity leave and pay into a period of shared parental leave and pay that can be taken by either parent. Shared parental leave can be taken in a more flexible way than maternity leave. It does not have to be a single continuous period; leave periods can be as little as a week and both parents can be absent from work at the same time.
Shared parental leave must be taken before the child's first birthday and is in addition to the right to unpaid parental leave under the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999. The right to additional paternity leave has been replaced by the right to shared parental leave.
A parent taking adoption leave also has the right to convert a period of adoption leave into a period of shared parental leave which either parent can take in a flexible way.

Key points

  • Women remain entitled to 52 weeks' maternity leave and 39 weeks' maternity pay.
  • A woman on maternity leave can commit to bringing her maternity leave and pay period to an end early. The balance of the maternity leave and pay period becomes available for either parent to take as shared parental leave and pay.
  • From 2 April 2023, the statutory shared parental pay rate is £172.48 (see our ‘Statutory rates’ page for historic rates). 
  • Shared parental leave can be taken in periods of a week or multiples of a week.
  • A parent can take a period of shared parental leave at the same time as the other parent is on maternity leave or shared parental leave.
  • A parent will only qualify to take shared parental leave if the other parent meets basic work and earnings criteria and the parent taking the leave meets the individual eligibility criteria (such as having 26 weeks' continuous service at the 15th week before the EWC and remaining in the same employment).
  • An employer must have at least eight weeks' notice of any period of shared parental leave.
  • Each parent can make up to three requests for periods of shared parental leave. Whether the employer can refuse a request depends on whether the employee has asked for a continuous or discontinuous period of leave.
  • Shared parental leave has to be taken before the child's first birthday.
  • Rights during a period of shared parental leave mirror those of a woman on maternity leave: all terms and conditions of employment continue except those relating to remuneration.
  • If employees suffer any detrimental treatment or are dismissed as a result of taking or asking to take shared parental leave they can bring a complaint to the employment tribunal.
  • Shared parental leave is also available to parents taking adoption leave. Other than the requirement for a woman on maternity leave that she must take the first two or four weeks as maternity leave, which is not the case for adoption leave, the shared parental leave rules apply equally to both maternity and adoption leave. 

Recent developments 

New law extends redundancy protection to new parents

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 became law on 24 May 2023. 

Whilst it won't be implemented until regulations have been published on it, which is likely to be around April 2024, once they are in place this law will have the following impact: 

  • Employers will be required to offer pregnant employees, and those who have come back from maternity, adoption and shared parental leave until 18 months after the birth/adoption, a suitable alternative vacancy during a redundancy exercise.
  • It will be unfair dismissal and discrimination if these employees are not favoured above all others in the redundancy exercise.
New SHPP rate proposed

30 November 2023

In November 2023, the Government proposed to increase key statutory rates from April 2024. Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and parental bereavement pay are all set to increase from £172.48 to £184.03 per week from April 2024. These increases remain proposals for now; confirmation is awaited. Whilst the Government could amend the proposals, that is highly unlikely.