Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP/SPL) - general information: booking blocks of leave/pay
In addition to an employee notifying their employer of their entitlement to take Shared Parental Leave (SPL) they must also submit a notice to book a period of leave. It is expected that in many cases an employee will submit the notice to book leave at the same time as the notice of entitlement.
In some cases notice to book leave might be later or additional notices may be submitted later.
In any case, a notice to book leave must be given at least 8 weeks before leave can be taken.
Any individual notification to book leave may consist of either one continuous period of leave or a number of discontinuous blocks.
Notice to book a continuous period of leave
Where an employee who is entitled to SPL submits a notice within the required time to book a single continuous period of leave this must be accepted by the employer. The employee is entitled to take the leave and the employer cannot therefore refuse the notification.
Notice to book discontinuous periods of leave
An employer does not have to accept a request in a single notice for 2 or more discontinuous periods of leave.
For example, an employee may submit a notice to book a period of 12 weeks’ SPL but may request that the leave covers the 3 periods from 14 September to 11 October, 26 October to 22 November and 7 December to 3 January.
Where such a notice is submitted there is a 2 week period during which the employer may:
- Agree to allow the periods of leave requested
- Propose alternative dates for the periods of leave
- Refuse the periods of leave requested without proposing alternative dates.
The 2 week period begins with the date the notice was given.
If within the 2 weeks the employer agrees to the periods requested in the notice, or agrees alternative dates with the employee, the employee becomes entitled to take the periods of leave that have been agreed.
Where no agreement is reached within the 2 weeks, the employee becomes entitled to take the total amount of leave requested in the notice as a single continuous period of leave.
The employee can choose the start date for the continuous period of leave, but this must be a date at least 8 weeks after the date on which the notice was given. So if the notice was given on 20 July the employee can choose to start the period of 12 weeks continuous leave on any date on or after 14 September. This cannot be refused, but the employee must notify the employer of the start date within 5 days of the end of the 2 week consideration period.
If the employee does not choose a start date, and notify the employer within the required time, the leave must begin on the start date of the first period of leave requested in the notice. This cannot be refused by the employer. So in the example used above the employee would be entitled to a single continuous period of leave for the 12 week period from 14 September to 6 November.
Varying a notice to book leave
An employee who is entitled to a period of leave may give a further written notice to request a variation of that period.
A variation notice may:
- Vary the start or end date of any period of leave, provided the notice is given at least 8 weeks before both the date varied and the new date
- Request that a single period of leave becomes discontinuous periods
- Request that discontinuous periods of leave become a single period
- Vary or cancel the amount of leave requested, provided the notice is given at least 8 weeks before any varied period is due to begin
A variation notice must state what periods of leave the employee is entitled to before the variation.
The same rules about discontinuous periods of leave apply to a variation notice as applied to the initial notice. An employer may therefore refuse a variation notice request for discontinuous periods of leave.
A notice to vary leave counts towards the limit of 3 notices an employee may submit (although an employer may choose to accept more than 3 notices, at their discretion).
Withdrawing a notice to book leave
An employee is not entitled to withdraw a notice booking a single continuous block of leave, but may do so if the employer agrees to the withdrawal.
An employee may withdraw a notice to book discontinuous periods of leave within the 2 week period from submitting the notice unless the employer and employee have agreed to periods of leave to be taken.
If a notice is withdrawn it does not count towards the limit of 3 notices an employee may submit.
Limit on number of notices to book leave
An employee may give an employer a maximum of 3 notices to book leave. A notice to vary an agreed leave entitlement counts towards this limit.
Where an employee has more than one employer the limit applies for each employer.
An employer can accept more than 3 notices if he chooses to do so and an additional fourth notice can also be given if a partner dies and the balance of entitlement is transferred to the surviving parent.
The following do not count towards the total of 3 notices:
- A notice that has been withdrawn
- A variation notice given because the child was born earlier or later than the expected week of birth
- A variation notice given because the child is placed for adoption earlier or later than the expected date
- A variation notice given in response to a request by the employer that the employee varies a period of leave.