If you’re expecting a baby, adopting a child or using a surrogate to have a baby, you may be able to take Shared Parental Leave. This is a type of parental leave that allows you and your partner up to 50 weeks of leave, and up to 37 weeks of pay between you. You can take Shared Parental Leave at the same time as your partner or separately. You can choose how to divide it so long as it’s taken within the first year.
Shared Parental Leave can give you more flexibility in your work and family life. It can also help you share the responsibility and the joy of caring for your new child during the first year, however, it’s not available for everyone and there’s an eligibility criteria.
Who can take Shared Parental Leave?
To be eligible for Shared Parental Leave, you and your partner must:
- be employees (not self-employed or agency workers);
- have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before your due date or matching date (if adopting);
- still be employed by the same employer while you take Shared Parental Leave;
- have earned at least £123 or more a week on average for 13 weeks before the qualifying week;
- share the main responsibility for caring for the child; and
- give your employer at least eight weeks’ notice.
Your partner can be your spouse, civil partner, or someone you’re cohabiting with. They don’t have to work for the same employer as you.
If you’re self-employed you’re not eligible for Shared Parental Leave or Pay. However, it’s worth noting that you can apply for Maternity Allowance. But you must have been registered as self-employed for at least 26 weeks.
How much Shared Parental Leave can you take?
You can only start Shared Parental Leave after the mother or primary adopter ends their maternity or adoption leave. They’ll also need to give their employer binding notice that they’re going to do so.
You can take Shared Parental Leave in up to three blocks, or more if your employer agrees. You can take Shared Parental Leave at the same time as your partner, or at different times.
Ways parents can use Shared Parental Leave
There are several ways you can use Shared Parental Leave, these include:
- the birth parent or primary adopter ends their maternity or adoption leave and takes Shared Parental Leave;
- the birth parent or primary adopter returns to work and their partner takes Shared Parental Leave;
- both parents are off at the same time;
- both parents share Shared Parental Leave equally and are off at different times; or
- both parents return to work at the same time and take Shared Parental Leave at a later date.
How much pay will you get during Shared Parental Leave?
Statutory pay for Shared Parental Leave is currently £172.48 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings.
However, some employers may offer more generous policies. You should check your contract or staff handbook, or ask your employer, to find out what their policy is.
Find out about PensionBee’s Parental Leave Policy.
Shared Parental Leave and pensions
If your workplace scheme is a defined contribution pension, you and your employer will still be contributing to your pension while you’re on Shared Parental Leave and Pay. However, your contributions during parental leave will be based on your parental leave pay, rather than your full salary. Your employer will continue contributing to your pension based on your pay before you took Shared Parental Leave.
What to remember:
as long as you’re paying into your pension, your employer will too. If you stop your contributions, so will your employer; and
if you’re taking the available 13 weeks of unpaid Shared Parental Leave then you won’t be paying into your pension, and neither will your employer.
What are the benefits of Shared Parental Leave?
Shared Parental Leave can have many benefits for you, your partner, and your child. Some of these are:
- you’ll both have more time to bond with your child and support each other as parents;
- you can share childcare responsibilities and reduce the gender pension gap;
- you’ll both have more flexibility and control over how you arrange your leave and work;
- you can both maintain your career prospects by returning to work sooner; and
- you’ll save money on childcare costs by taking turns to look after your child.
What are the challenges of Shared Parental Leave?
Shared Parental Leave can also have some challenges that you should consider. Some of these are:
- your employer not supporting your decision;
- your income changing from a full-time salary to Shared Parental Leave statutory pay; and
- social pressures from friends and family who may have different views.
How can you make Shared Parental Leave work for you?
If you decide that Shared Parental Leave’s right for you and your family, here are some tips to help you make it work:
- talk to your partner about your preferences for taking Shared Parental Leave;
- be honest and respectful of each other’s views and feelings;
- let your employer know as early as possible;
- talk to your colleagues and managers about your Shared Parental Leave arrangements;
- if you feel comfortable, speak to your family and friends about how they can support you; and
- talk to other parents who are taking Shared Parental Leave.
Thinking about starting a family? Listen to episode 19 of The Pension Confident Podcast where our guests discuss preparing to have kids, childcare costs and more. You can also watch the episode on YouTube or read the full transcript.
As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.
Last edited: 18/09/2023