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Shared Parental Leave (SPL) was created to give more flexibility to parents during the first year following their child’s birth or adoption. It’s one of several types of leave which parents are entitled to take depending on their eligibility, and can be used as an alternative to individual maternity and paternity leave by parents who need it.

How does Shared Parental Leave (SPL) work?

At a basic level, Shared Parental Leave allows parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave between them in the first year after their child is born or placed with them. Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) deals with the financial aspect, allowing parents to share up to 37 weeks of pay.

Are there restrictions on how much leave is available?

Employees start off with a maximum of 52 weeks available for leave, with 2 of those weeks being mandatory after giving birth or adopting – rising to a 4 week compulsory period if the mother’s job involves factory work.

The remaining 50 (or 48) weeks of leave can then be shared between the parents as long as both are eligible.

The same process applies to the 39 weeks of statutory pay that can be shared as Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). For example, someone who was claiming Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for 10 weeks can share the remaining 29 weeks with an eligible partner.

Who is eligible for Shared Parental Leave?

The easy version is that if your employee is eligible for individual leave such as maternity leave and pay, then they’re probably able to convert it into SPL and ShPP and transfer this to a partner.

The reality is a bit more complicated than that, with different criteria for birth parents, adoptive parents, parents using a surrogate, and which parent wants to use the shared leave and pay. HMRC have an online service to help you work out what Shared Parental Leave parents are entitled to.

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Is there a time limit on taking Shared Parental Leave?

SPL can only be taken after the compulsory leave period has ended, up until 52 weeks from birth or placement.

The system is intended to be flexible, so parents don’t have to use SPL all in one go. Instead, employees can take Shared Parental Leave in up to 3 separate blocks between the baby’s birth and first birthday (or within the first year of adoption), returning to work between each block.

You’ll need at least 8 weeks notice that your employee plans to end their maternity or adoption pay, which will then allow the partner to start SPL even if maternity or adoption leave is still running.

How much is Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)?

Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) is paid at the same rate as Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), so it’s the lower amount of either £184.03 a week or 90% of an employee’s average weekly earnings.

Can I top up the amount?

Yes, you can pay more than the statutory minimum, but you must make sure that this process is clearly documented in a company scheme which any member of staff can access.

How do I reclaim Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)?

As an employer you’ll normally be able to reclaim most of the statutory amount of Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) your employee receives. You’ll need to work out your claim using payroll software, and then submit this information as part of an Employer Payment Summary (EPS).

How much can I reclaim?

You’ll usually be able to reclaim 92% of the statutory amount that you paid out. If you paid less than £45,000 of Class 1 employer’s National Insurance Contributions in the last full tax year then you might be able to reclaim 103% using Small Employers’ Relief.

Can I get help if I can’t afford to make statutory payments?

It’s understandable that businesses can sometimes struggle to pay the statutory minimum. For example, if you’re paying ShPP whilst also paying a temporary worker to cover the role in your employee’s absence. To get help with this and ease strain on your cash flow, you can apply to be repaid up to 4 weeks in advance. You’ll repay the advance each time you submit an EPS to reclaim the statutory amount.

Learn more about our online accounting services for businesses. Call 020 3355 4047 to chat to the team, and get an instant online quote.

About The Author

Elizabeth Hughes

A content writer specialising in business, finance, software, and beyond. I'm a wordsmith with a penchant for puns and making complex subjects accessible. Learn more about Elizabeth.

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