UK: To share, or not to share? Parental leave edition

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Warwick Legal Network
11 března, 2024


This International Women’s Day, we want to highlight your right to choose how you and your partner share your childcare.

In April 2015, Shared Parental Leave was introduced in the UK to give parents greater flexibility on how they share statutory leave between them following the birth or adoption of a child.

The ability and financial support for parents to share childcare between them on a more equal basis is crucial for furthering gender equality and closing the gender pay gap in our workplaces. However, despite an estimated 300,000 couples being eligible for the scheme, there has only been about a 2% uptake. This is likely due, at least in part, to the wide difference in the cultural norms and expectations of men and women when it comes to childcare responsibilities that we still see in many workplaces.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay was introduced some time ago as a promising tool to further gender equality. Unfortunately, the scheme has not had the desired effect of encouraging men to take more leave after the birth of a child, which of course is crucial if we are to normalise shared childcare responsibilities more widely and enable a culture shift in our workplaces. Embracing Shared Parental Leave and Pay is a key part of this journey, but it is clear that many employers have found it difficult to understand and explain the rules of the scheme. The lack of awareness of the scheme amongst employees and overcomplicated rules, means that parents are missing out on not only a great opportunity of making the most of their statutory entitlement but also on making a difference in the long term. On International Women’s Day this year we want to put the spotlight back on to Shared Parental Leave and Pay.

So, what is the scheme all about, and how could it help you?

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

The Shared Parental Leave (SPL) scheme enables eligible parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay after birthing or adopting a baby. Leave can be taken at the same time as your co-parent, or separately whilst the other works.

To qualify, you and your co-parent will need to meet the eligibility criteria and give notice to your employers.

The main caveat of the leave and pay scheme, however, is a requirement that you or your co-parent has to end (‘curtail’) Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and Leave (or Maternity Allowance), in order to replace this with Shared Parental Pay and Leave.

Shared Parental Pay is paid at the rate of £172.48 per week, or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. This is the same as the rate for SMP after six weeks.

In the first six weeks after birth, SMP is paid at 90% of earnings with no maximum cap. This often means that it is more financially efficient for the birthing parent (who would qualify for SMP or Maternity Allowance) to only consider using the Shared Parental Leave and Pay scheme after the first six weeks of birth.

Why use Shared Parental Leave and Pay?

Using Shared Parental Leave and Pay will enable you and your co-parent to decide how to share childcare in a more flexible manner than the Maternity and Paternity Leave schemes currently allow. You can choose to spend time caring for your child together, sharing the childcare whilst your co-parent works, periodically stagger childcare responsibilities between you and most significantly, it gives you as the birthparent greater opportunity to return to work.

We believe that empowering mothers to effectively share their maternity leave with their partner and encouraging men to make use of their parental leave entitlement is a key component for increasing equality, keeping more skilled women in employment and in turn, reduce the gender pay gap and gender inequality in the workplace.

How we can help?

At ebl miller rosenfalck, we can determine eligibility for Shared Parental Leave and Pay of you and your co-parent, assist you with notifying your employer and help you to understand how and when you can take the leave and pay. We will ensure that the advice we give is tailored to your priorities, whether this be to maximise finances, to share the childcaring responsibilities, or to get you back into work as soon as possible.

For employers, we can assist in providing guidance on the scheme rules, your obligations as an employer and how to recover your costs in paying Statutory Shared Parental Pay.


For further information, please contact:

Laura Smith, Associate

ebl miller rosenfalck, London


t: +44 (0) 7384 237 985


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