Qualifying for Shared Parental Leave and Pay

Qualifying for Shared Parental Leave (SPL)

SPL is only available to 'employees'. It is not available to casual and agency workers or self-employed contractors.

Each parent must qualify separately (ie in their own right) for SPL and ShPP. Both parents must share the main responsibility for the care of the child and they must provide the necessary statutory notices.

In order to qualify for statutory SPL and for both parents to share the leave:

  • the mother/primary adopter must be entitled to at least the UK statutory maternity/adoption leave or pay, or maternity allowance and must agree to end their maternity/adoption leave and pay (or allowance) period early; and both parents must:
  • have employee status (ie not worker or self-employed), with
  • at least 26 weeks of continuous service with their respective employer(s) at the end of the 15th week before the EWC, or on the date of the adoption placement; and
  • still be employed in the week before the SPL is to be taken.

If only one parent meets the above criteria of employment, this parent will qualify for SPL if their partner (ie the other parent):

  • has worked (in an employed or self-employed capacity) in at least 26 weeks of the 66 weeks before the EWC, or the date of the adoption; and
  • had average weekly earnings of at least £30 during 13 of those weeks (the maternity allowance threshold).

See further information under the ‘If only one parent eligible’ section.

To check/confirm eligibility, employees are advised to use the government’s online calculator – ‘A family leave and pay calculator’. This calculator enables parents to establish their eligibility to the UK statutory entitlement to maternity, paternity and/or SPL leave and pay. Please note that this is a UK-government calculator and all questions assume employment based in the UK. If one of the parents works and / or lives outside the UK, please see the note below.

NB Non-UK citizens may be entitled to UK statutory family benefits (eg maternity) if they are working or have worked for a UK employer within the qualifying period and/or have paid the UK National Insurance contributions. Please click here for further information.

Separate eligibility criteria apply for Shared Parental Pay.

Qualifying for Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)

In addition to satisfying the eligibility criteria for the leave part of the scheme, in order to qualify for statutory ShPP, each parent must have earned an average salary of the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) amount or more for the eight weeks prior to the qualifying week.

In addition, the University employees may be entitled to the University’s contractual ShPP scheme, which pays over and above the statutory minimum, if they meet the criteria.

If only one parent is eligible

Sometimes only one of the parents may qualify for SPL (see above).

Where only one parent qualifies for SPL the leave cannot be shared with the other parent. In such cases the eligible parent may use SPL, for example, to allow them to request leave in separate blocks, since maternity/adoption leave must be taken in a continuous block without the possibility of returning to work and then restarting that leave again (with the exception of where an employee attends work through the use of their KIT days).  

The mother/primary adopter must end, or agree to end their maternity/adoption leave, pay or allowance, on a future date in order to allow a period of SPL to be taken by the other parent. Notices by the employee must still be submitted in the required timeframes.