SPL Notifications - Birth

This guidance was last updated on January 2015

Employees who wish to take SPL and who meet the eligibility criteria are required to give three separate notices: (i) a notice to curtail maternity leave (if the employee is the mother), (ii) a notice of entitlement to SPL and ShPP, and (iii) a notice to ‘book’ any period(s) of SPL.

Where possible, departments should have early discussions with the employee about their leave arrangements, to explore what may be best for the employee’s personal circumstances, as well as to help with departmental planning. SPL cannot begin until the mother has either curtailed her maternity leave and pay or has agreed to curtail it on a future date, by providing a maternity curtailment notice (see the pro-forma on the right-hand side).

For guidance on SPL in cases of adoption, please click here.

Notice 1: A maternity curtailment notice (if the employee is the mother)

If the employee is the mother, she must give her department at least eight weeks’ written notice to end her maternity leave before she or her partner can take SPL. This is the ‘curtailment notice’. The notice must state the date her maternity leave will end. Notice can be given before or after the child’s birth but maternity leave cannot end until at least two weeks after the birth. The pro-forma on the right-hand side can be used for this purpose.

The curtailment notice is binding and cannot usually be revoked. The employee may only revoke a curtailment notice if maternity leave has not yet ended and one of the following applies:

  • the employee realises that neither she nor the other parent are in fact eligible for SPL or ShPP, in which case she may revoke the curtailment notice in writing up to eight weeks after it was given;
  • if the curtailment notice was given before giving birth, then the employee may revoke it in writing up to eight weeks after it was given, or up to six weeks after birth, whichever is later; or
  • if the other parent has died.

Once an employee has revoked her curtailment notice she will be unable to opt back into the SPL scheme, unless she revoked it in one of the circumstances described above.

The other parent may be eligible to take SPL before the mother’s maternity leave ends, provided that the mother has given the curtailment notice.

Notice 2: Notice of entitlement

If the mother is an employee of the University

Not less than eight weeks before the proposed start date of the SPL, the mother must provide a notice of her entitlement to SPL and ShPP using the pro-forma on the right-hand side. The notice must contain the following information:

  • the employee’s name and the name of her partner;
  • that she will share the main responsibility for the care of the child with her partner;  
  • the expected date of birth of the child;
  • maternity leave start and end dates;
  • the amount of SPL and ShPP available;
  • the intended amount of SPL and ShPP to be taken by each parent; and,
  • declarations by the employee and her partner that they both meet the statutory conditions to enable the employee to take SPL and ShPP and that the partner agrees to the employee taking SPL and ShPP.

The mother’s partner must also provide the following information:

  • their name, address and National Insurance number;
  • their employer’s details;
  • that they satisfy the qualifying requirements (see above) for the University’s employee to take SPL and ShPP; and,
  • that they agree to the University’s employee taking SPL and ShPP.

If the mother’s partner is the employee of the University

Not less than eight weeks before the proposed start date of the SPL, the employee must provide a notice of his/her entitlement to SPL and ShPP using the pro-forma on the right-hand side. The notice must contain the following information:

  • the employee’s name and the name of the mother;
  • that he/she will share the main responsibility for the care of the child with the mother;  
  • the expected date of birth of the child;
  • the start and end dates of the mother’s maternity leave, pay (or allowance);
  • the amount of SPL and ShPP available; and,
  • the intended amount of SPL and ShPP to be taken by each parent.

The mother must also provide the following information:

  • that she has agreed to (or has agreed that on a future date she will) curtail her maternity leave and pay (or allowance);
  • her name, address and National Insurance number;
  • her employer’s details;
  • that she satisfies the qualifying requirements (see above) for the University's employee to take SPL and ShPP; and,
  • that she agrees to the University's employee taking SPL and ShPP.

In addition, departments may request a copy of the child’s birth certificate within 14 days of receiving the notice from the employee. The employee will have 14 days to respond to the request, with either a copy of the birth certificate where the child has already been born or an agreement to provide the birth certificate after the birth of the child.

The notice of entitlement to SPL and ShPP is non-binding.

The notice of entitlement to SPL and ShPP is non-binding and can be revoked or amended, as long as the notice is given within the correct timeframe.

Notice 3: Booking a period of SPL

The employee must give written notice to book a period of SPL, which specifies the start and end dates of the SPL. This notice must be given at least eight weeks before the proposed start date for SPL.

Leave can be requested as one continuous block of leave or in discontinuous blocks (ie split into shorter, discontinuous periods, with periods to return to work in between).

Up to a maximum of three notices (inclusive of changes) to book leave can be made by each parent individually (inclusive of the first notice to book a period of SPL). This means that parents can request or vary blocks of leave on three separate occasions, but within the first year of the child being born. Where discontinuous leave in multiple blocks is requested, ie where an employee wishes to take separate blocks of leave, but with periods to return to work in between, this should be done in one single notice. Additional changes, ie changes beyond the three permitted notices, may be considered in exceptional circumstances. The employee will need to discuss these proposals with their Departmental Administrator (or equivalent) and any changes to the agreed patterns of leave may only take place where mutual agreement by the department and the employee has been achieved.

Where employees intend to book leave in discontinuous blocks, they should discuss this with their department before submitting their notice to book any such leave. Early discussions about leave arrangements are advantageous to both the employee and the department, as it means that appropriate and timely procedures can be followed. It also allows more time for the employee and the department to agree the way in which the shared leave can be taken, and any cover that is required to be considered and arranged.

The notice to book leave is binding, unless it is later ascertained that one or both of the parents do not qualify for SPL. However, if the mother gives her notice before her baby is born, she has the right to request to change her leave arrangements up to six weeks after childbirth. Employees should tell their department of the child’s date of birth as soon as it is reasonably possible following the birth, and in all cases before the first period of SPL begins.

Cancelling or changing the dates of SPL

Employees may cancel a period of leave by notifying their department in writing at least eight weeks before the start date in the notice to book SPL.

Employees may change the start date for a period of leave, or the length of the leave, by notifying their department in writing at least eight weeks before the original start date and the new start date.

Employees do not need to give eight weeks’ notice if they are changing the dates of their SPL because their child has been born earlier than the EWC, where they wanted to start their SPL a certain length of time (but not more than eight weeks) after birth. In such cases, employees should notify the University in writing of the change as soon as they can.

Employees may change the end date for a period of leave by notifying the University in writing at least eight weeks before the original end date and the new end date.

Employees may combine discontinuous periods of leave into a single continuous period of leave by notifying the University in writing at least eight weeks before the start date of the first period.

Employees may request that a continuous period of leave be split into two or more discontinuous periods with periods of work in between. Any such request will be considered as set out above under ‘Notice 3’.

A notice to change or cancel a period of leave will count as one of an employee’s three notices to book leave, unless:

  • the variation is a result of the employee’s child being born earlier or later than the EWC;
  • the variation is at the University’s request;
  • the University agrees otherwise.