UK Shared Parental Leave for Birth Parents

01 April 2023

Shared Parental Leave was introduced in the UK to enable working parents to share the caring responsibilities for their child during their first year.

What is shared parental leave?

Eligible employees and their partner may qualify for Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). This benefit allows for up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay to be shared (dependent on what maternity entitlement for leave and pay has already been utilised by the birth mother) within the first year of the child’s birth.

Eligible employees may be entitled to SPL and ShPP if they are:

  • having a child;
  • using a surrogate to have a child;
  • adopting a child;
  • fostering a child that the employee plans to adopt.

For more information on SPL and ShPP eligibility when using a surrogate or adopting, please get in touch with Amie Crowther-Bali.

Does shared parental leave replace an employee’s entitlement to maternity or paternity leave?

No. Parents remain entitled to take statutory maternity and paternity leave.

The applicable parent must end their maternity leave and pay early to then benefit from SPL and ShPP. Maternity and Paternity leave cannot be taken at the same time as SPL and ShPP and must be ended prior to SPL commencing.

Swapping maternity leave with shared parental leave

By law, a birth mother must take at least two weeks maternity leave following the birth of a child but can otherwise choose to end their maternity leave at any time. Parents can then alternate leave and take up to three separate blocks each (blocks of leave must be for a duration of one week or more unless otherwise agreed with the employer) or be off work together and use it all in one go. Other options include both parents utilising SPL at different times, the birth mother returning to work and utilising SPL at a later date within the SPL parameters, etc.


The mother and their partner are both eligible for SPL and ShPP. The mother ends their maternity leave after 12 weeks, leaving 40 weeks (of the total 52-week leave entitlement) and 27 weeks (of the total of 39-week pay entitlement) available for SPL and ShPP. The mother takes 30 weeks of this entitlement (3 of those weeks unpaid), and the secondary parent takes the remaining 10 weeks unpaid.

Eligibility for shared parental leave and pay

To be eligible for both SPL and ShPP, both parents must (at a minimum):

  • Meet the work and pay/eligibility criteria (this can differ depending on the arrangement);
  • Give the correct notice to respective employers;
  • Have curtailed or given notice to end their maternity leave and pay early (meaning the employee must have taken less than 52 weeks of maternity leave and 39 weeks of maternity pay);
  • Share the responsibility of the child at birth;
  • Have properly notified you of their entitlement and have provided the necessary declarations and evidence.

Both parents wish to take SPL and ShPP

Both parents must meet the same eligibility criteria, as such, they must:

  • have been employed by the same employer continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date;
  • remain employed by the same employer until they begin their SPL;
  • earn an average of £123 or more weekly.

The birth mother’s partner wishes to take SPL and ShPP

 The birth mother is required to:

  • have been employed for at least 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks before the due date;
  • have earned a minimum total of £390 within 13 of the 66 weeks referenced above.

The partner is required to:

  • have been continuously employed by the same company for a minimum of 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date;
  • remain employed by the same company until they begin SPL;
  • earn an average of £123 or more weekly.

Shared Parental Pay

An employee may be eligible for ShPP for up to 37 weeks (minus however many weeks of statutory maternity pay has already been utilised) at the lower of the below:

  • £172.48 per week; or
  • 90% of average weekly earnings.


As the birth mother on maternity leave is entitled to 90% of earnings for six weeks, there is no financial benefit for the employee to commence SPL until week seven.

If your employee does not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), they may be entitled to Maternity Allowance from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The rate above is correct as of April 2023. The rate normally changes annually in April.


It is sensible for employers to discuss an employee’s plans for SPL so there is plenty of time to plan for work cover and entitlements can be fully explained. Also, the earlier an employee informs the employer of their intention, the more likely that these wishes can be accommodated. That being said, it is also common for employees to express their intention to take SPL whilst they are out on maternity leave, this does not have to be pre-arranged.

Tax Treatment

Employers may be able to recover up to 92% of ShPP. This reclaim is carried out automatically through the employee payroll system by reducing the total PAYE liability.

Any discretionary Company ‘top up’ of statutory pay is made at your discretion and will not be recoverable under this arrangement.

How ZEDRA can help

We are proud to provide award winning professional advice and services to employers seeking to globalise their businesses.

Whether you are already established in the UK or hiring staff for the first time, we can guide you and your business through the employee related regulatory, planning and reporting requirements.

We provide our clients with day to day operational support, implement HR software, payroll procedures and employee benefits as well as offering HR advice.

For more information, please get in touch with Amie Crowther-Bali.

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