Shared parental leave (SPL) allows parents to share statutory leave and pay. The coalition Liberal Democrat-Conservative Government introduced SPL for parents of children due on or after 5 April 2015. It was brought into effect by various legislation (a list of which is given at the end of these Q&As). SPL is separate from the right to unpaid parental leave, and has not replaced the current maternity leave and pay regime.
What SPL did replace was the additional paternity leave regime, which enabled eligible employees to care for their child after the mother had returned to work for between two and 26 weeks, starting 20 weeks after the child’s birth.Similar SPL rights apply to adoptions. The intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement are also entitled to take advantage of shared parental leave. These rights also apply to same-sex partnerships, so any references to ‘fathers’ should be taken as including women in same-sex partnerships..
Unpaid parental leave generally refers to the current right of up to 18 weeks’ (formerly 13 weeks) of extra unpaid leave, which is in addition to the primary paid leave available to parents.
For general information on shared parental leave and pay, see our Maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave and pay Q&As.