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Shared Parental (Maternity) Leave

29 November 2013: Under the present system mothers take paid maternity leave, fathers can take two weeks parental Paternity Leave (currently £136.78 pw), and both can take unpaid Parental Leave. Parents can ask to work flexibly on returning to work. Many fathers opt to take time off after the birth as paid holiday and take up of parental leave is low.


As reported on the BBC and elsewhere this morning, moves are afoot to allow mothers and fathers to share paid leave following birth more flexibly. Parents will be able to share the SMP and leave that is currently available only to mothers (and adoptive parents). When introduced key elements will be:


  • Entitlement to 52 weeks of maternity leave (39 weeks paid) will remain.
  • However qualifying parents will be able to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay. Mothers can opt to return earlier and share the remainder with her partner.
  • The employees will propose the pattern of leave that they wish to take.
  • Parents will be able to take shared parental leave at the same time as each other or separately.
  • The leave may be taken in small blocks of no less than one week rather than all in one go.
  • Employers will have to agree any proposed pattern of time off and will retain the right to insist it be confined to a continuous block, with no more than two subsequent changes.


Employers’ organisations have described this system as unwieldy and there are concerns about complicated arrangements in which a mother returns for a month, then disappears again for another month. Hopefully in the majority of cases employers and parents will be able to agree practical and workable arrangements between them. We will keep you informed of developments.


Read more at ACAS.

Reculver Solicitors. Employment Solicitors and lawyers based in Central London

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