Parents with baby

Shared Parental Leave

New parents have the right to Shared Parental Leave. What is this right and how do you apply for it?

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) allows eligible mums, dads, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed with them in the case of adoption or take leave in flexible blocks in the first year. For instance, it will allow parents to be off work at the same time, or have turns to each have time off work to care for their baby.

If both parents are eligible for SPL and the mother reduces her maternity leave or returns to work early you can decide how much shared parental leave each of you will take and how you divide your pay entitlement. The mother can also use shared parental leave if she wishes to return to work early then take more leave later in the year. 

If you are wondering how shared parental leave works, take a look at our Q&A on Shared Parental Leave to find out more about this new right, including information on:

  • Who can take Shared Parental Leave?
  • What happens to my maternity leave or maternity pay?
  • How do I make a request for Shared Parental Leave?
  • How long is Shared Parental Leave?
  • Pay during Shared Parental Leave
  • What are your employment rights?

There has been some criticism of SPL, as it is complex and there are a number of notices to give and there is no additional pay for parents who wish to take it unless your employer offers some. However, it will give some parents the opportunity to spend more time with their child in the first year and it does give more flexibility than a single block of maternity leave.

Over time, it is hoped employers will become increasingly efficient at dealing with SPL requests, but there will probably be a short period of adjustment as everyone gets used to this new right.

Updated April 2016

Further information

NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in many areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. You might find attending one of NCT's Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Law firm, Slater & Gordon provides useful information and advice on employment law, maternity discrimination and rights.

You can read more about Shared Parental Leave on the ACAS website.

ACAS offers advice on employment rights and early conciliation. You can call their helpline on 0300 123 1100.

Directgov has information on shared parental leave

Maternity Action has information on maternity rights and you can call their helpline on helpline 0845 600 8533. 

Working Families has information on Shared Parental Leave and you can call their helpline on 0300 012 0312 or email:

Law firm, Slater & Gordon provides useful information and advice on employment law, maternity discrimination and rights.

Yesslaw provides advice and help with resolving disputes at work, as well as information on shared parental leave. Call 020 3701 7530/7531 or email