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Can a mother take Shared Parental Leave instead of maternity leave?
Maternity leave can only be taken in a single block, whereas with the employer's agreement, Shared Parental Leave can be taken in up to three separate blocks. So a mother could go back to work for a few weeks then decide to take more time off later on.
Mothers must take the first two weeks of maternity leave (four weeks if they work in a factory) – called Compulsory Maternity Leave – but after that the rest of the leave can be shared.