ALL Parents Can Get Shared Parental Leave But Only 5% Take It. Here's How To Use It

<span class="copyright">ljubaphoto via Getty Images</span>
ljubaphoto via Getty Images

With a lot of information online about parental leave, it’s difficult to keep up to date with what you can and cannot do.

As of April 6 this year under new rules, paternity leave can be taken in two, one week blocks – before this, you were only able to take paternity leave two weeks in a row.

Additionally, most parents are now eligible for another policy that only 5% of people actually use. 

What is Shared Parental Leave?

Much like maternity leave, where the birthing parent can take up to a year off work to bond with their child, Shared Parental Leave allows both parents to take off up to a year.

This means you and your partner can share up to 50 weeks of leave, and up to 37 weeks of pay between the both of you.

This leave can be taken in blocks separated by periods of work, or even all in one go.

How does Shared Parental Leave work?

When it comes to SPL, it’s not a policy that is dependant on your workplace or something that your employer has to offer you.

It is for every parent that is eligible under the UK Government guidelines. This means if you or your partner are having a baby, using a surrogate to have a baby, adopting a child or fostering a child who you’re planning to adopt.

You both must share responsibility for the child at birth as you are not eligible if you started sharing responsibility for the child after it was born.

In addition to this, you cannot be self-employed and both of you must be in full-time jobs.

Applying for SPL is pretty straightforward, you just need to put a few things in place to give your employer as much notice as possible.

Firstly you need to give your employer at least 8 weeks written notice of your leave date. You should also fill out any paperwork that your employer has for internal purposes.

Your employer may also ask for a copy of the birth certificate, a declaration of the place and date of birth (if the birth has not been registered yet) as well as the name and address of your partner’s employer.

What if I’m adopting or fostering? 

If you’re planning on adopting or fostering a child, you are still eligible for Shared Parental Leave.

However, your employer may ask for additional information such as the name and address of the adoption agency or local authority, the date you were matched with the child, the date the child will start to live with you and the name and address of your partner’s employer.

For more information on applying for Shared Parental Leave, you can visit the UK government website.