As millions of families celebrated Father’s Day this weekend, soon-to-be dads should take a moment to consider whether they can play a more active role in the first year of their child’s life by applying for Shared Parental Leave and Pay.
Eligible dads can now share up to 37 weeks’ pay and up to 50 weeks of leave with the child’s mother in the first year of their baby’s life.
The scheme, which started last April, gives mums the opportunity to return to work earlier if they wish. Parents can take up to 6 months off work at the same time or alternatively stagger their leave and pay so that one of them is always at home with their child. This gives dads and partners an opportunity to bond with their new-born and many dads and partners will also qualify for statutory pay.
How it works
Parents must meet the eligibility criteria in order to take advantage of Shared Parental Leave and pay. Those eligible can take:
- any weeks of Maternity Leave that the mother does not intend to use as up to 50 weeks of Shared Parental Leave
- any weeks of Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance that the mother does not intend to use as up to 37 weeks of Shared Parental Pay
Parents can decide how best they split up leave, and whether to take it all at once or in blocks. The scheme allows parents to book up to 3 separate blocks of Shared Parental Leave instead of taking it all in one go.
To qualify for Shared Parental Leave and Pay, an employee must have been employed continuously by the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the ‘qualifying week’. To qualify for pay they must additionally have earned at least the lower earnings level (currently £112 a week) in an 8 week test period.
The other parent must be employed or a self-employed earner who has worked for 26 weeks and earned £30 on average in any 13 of those weeks in the 66 weeks before the week the baby is due. The same principles apply to adopters and in the case of joint adoptions, the other parent can qualify for Shared Parental Leave and Pay where the parent that qualifies for Adoption Leave and Pay doesn’t intend to take their full leave and pay entitlement.
Shared Parental Leave is also available to new adoptive parents.
To find out if you are eligible for Shared Parental Leave and Pay and to work out your entitlement, see Calculate your leave and pay when you have a child.