Can a mother take Shared Parental Leave instead of maternity leave?

Yes. Shared Parental Leave is not just for fathers and partners. A mother might choose to end her maternity leave early and take Shared Parental Leave instead because it can be taken more flexibly.

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.

Take care though, because during the first six weeks, statutory maternity pay is more generous than the equivalent pay during shared parental leave.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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