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Shared parental leave and pay entitlements

This guide covers shared parental leave including eligibility and how it is booked.


Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) gives eligible parents the opportunity to share leave and pay during the child's first year. It is available in Scotland, Wales and England.  

Employed mothers will continue to be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave and 39 weeks of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance (MA). Paid Statutory Paternity Leave of two weeks will continue to be available to a father and a mother’s/adopter’s partner.

However, an eligible mother can give notice to end her maternity leave and, with her partner or the child’s father, opt for ShPL. If they both meet the qualifying requirements, they will need to decide how they want to divide their ShPL and ShPP entitlement.

To be entitled to ShPL and ShPP both the mother/ adopter and the father/partner need to meet specific eligibility criteria.

To check if you are eligible, you can use the leave and pay calculator on

The amount of ShPL and ShPP available will depend on how much maternity leave and pay the mother/ adopter has already taken by the time they give notice to end their maternity leave.

Generally, there is a ‘pot’ of 52 weeks leave and 39 weeks statutory pay available, so the number of weeks of maternity leave and statutory maternity pay taken by the mother is deducted from this total to calculate the remainder that can be shared. As a mother is obliged to take at least two weeks maternity leave and pay, the maximum amount of ShPL that can be available is 50 weeks and the maximum amount of ShPP available is 37 weeks.

For example:

  • mother takes 12 weeks maternity leave and receives 12 weeks SMP
  • mother then ends her maternity leave to share the remainder with her partner
  • a shareable ‘pot’ of 40 weeks ShPL and 27 weeks ShPP becomes available.

You and your partner may wish to alternate your pattern of leave and pay, so one of you ‘swaps on’ to ShPL/ShPP while the other ‘swaps off’ and returns to work. You can also share your leave and pay so you take it at the same time. For example, you could take 20 weeks, then return to work so your partner takes the remaining 20 weeks. Alternatively, both you and your partner could take 20 weeks at the same time.

This is important as ShPL provisions also let you suggest a flexible pattern of leave to your employer.

You have the right to request ShPL in up to three separate blocks but your employer can agree to more. They can also let you split each block into several shorter periods of work and leave. Generally, you will need to give eight weeks’ notice of your intention to take shared parental leave and pay, but always check your employer's policies. 

NHS terms and conditions

NHS England
From 1 April 2019, shared parental pay for staff working in the NHS in England will be enhanced to the same levels as occupational maternity and adoption pay. Previously it was only paid at statutory levels.

For eligibility criteria, please see section 15 of the NHS terms and conditions of service.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
Consideration is being given to extending this to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Your employer’s policies will outline exactly what you need to do to book ShPL, and when.  Arranging ShPL and ShPP can be complex so it's important you consult your employer’s maternity and paternity policies without delay. 

Some organisations, such as the NHS, offer enhanced maternity rights giving mothers maternity pay above the statutory minimum (for example 26 weeks’ full pay). Organisations may ‘mirror’ their maternity enhancements in any ShPL policy allowing the father/partner to receive more than the statutory amount of pay, but there is no statutory requirement for them to do so.

It's therefore very important to check your and your partner’s employer’s policies to be sure of your respective entitlements to ShPP.

If you work in the NHS, NHS employers gives information on Shared parental leave

ACAS also gives a general overview on ShPL and ShPP.

Each parent will have an individual entitlement to 20 shared parental leave in touch (SPLIT) days.  This is in addition to 10 KIT days.

The arrangements are very similar for Keep in Touch (KIT) days. SPLIT days enable parents to work up to 20 days without formally bringing their ShPL/ShPP to an end.

The amount that you would be paid for a SPLIT day would be agreed with your employer before you undertake the work.

Check your employer's policy on ShPL. 

Maternity Action also has some useful FAQs on SPLIT days

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Page last updated - 19/03/2019