10 min read

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

These days, the Government has a new name for Paternity Leave; they now call it Shared Parental Leave (SPL), and since April 2015 there are new rules in place that make it a whole lot more flexible. 

A young couple cradle their newborn.

You’ll be able to split up to 52 weeks’ parental leave and 39 weeks’ pay between you and your partner. So long as your employer approves, you can parcel the leave in up to three separate blocks to suit your family’s needs. It also gives Mum the freedom to return to work earlier and hand over the leftover allowance to Dad, should she wish – you can even switch back if you change your mind.

There are some rules and limits, for example, it has to be Mum who takes the first two weeks’ off after the baby arrives. To find out how it works, take a look at GOV.UK.

Before the baby is born

Dads now have the right to take unpaid time off work to accompany their partner to up to two antenatal appointments.

Are you eligible for Ordinary Paternity Leave?

You can take either one or two weeks consecutive time off to support Mum and baby after the birth, so long as you’re classed as an employee. To qualify, you must have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks, either by:

  • The end of the 15th week before the start of the week when the baby is due; or
  • The end of the week that you are told you’ve been matched with your child for adoption.

Ordinary Paternity Leave is in addition to your contracted holiday entitlement, so you shouldn’t lose any of your annual holiday.

If you don’t qualify, you’ll still be able to take parental leave but this will be unpaid. You’ll need to let your employer know 21 days before the week that your baby is due that you expect to take parental leave for the birth. This date is not set in stone for births so if you have given the correct notice, you can still take your parental leave and be at the birth even if your baby arrives early or late!

The same rules apply if you’re adopting a child but the criteria for employment status and duration apply from the end of the week you’re notified that you’re matched with a child.

When can you take your leave?

Ordinary Paternity Leave has to be taken all in one go and can’t be spread over different weeks or taken in odd days. You’ll need to finish your leave before your baby is 56 days old.

Like your partner’s Maternity Leave, you’ll need to give your employer notice at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week your baby is due.

You should confirm details of when your baby is due, if you want to take one or two weeks off and when you want it to start. You might also need to give proof that you’re entitled to it. If your employer requests notice in writing, you can fill in a Form SC3 (Becoming a birth parent) which works as a self-certification.

“Paternity pay is not considered a benefit so unfortunately is taxed in the normal way.”

How much do you get?

Your employer will pay you a statutory weekly flat rate of £139.58 or  90% of your average weekly earnings if you get paid less than this. This calculation is based on your gross pay. As Paternity Pay is classed as replacement earnings for employment income and is not considered a state benefit, it will be subject to tax and National Insurance in the usual way.

However, bear in mind that this is only the statutory amount – your employer might be generous and offer more money or time off.

You’ll need to give your employer at least 28 days’ notice if you want to change the date that your Paternity Pay starts.

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Talking Finance content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.