Deciding whether, and if so how, to share your leave is a difficult and personal decision. Everyone’s situation is different, but here are some general factors you might want to think about:
- What suits you best? It is up to the mother or primary adopter to decide whether or not they want to share maternity or adoption leave with their partner. You may prefer to take the whole 52 weeks. The decision might impact, for example, on your plans to breastfeed.
- Is your partner an employee? Only employees can take shared parental leave. The right is not available to agency workers or the self-employed.
- Does your partner have 26 weeks’ service? If they are new in their job, they may not qualify for SPL.
- Would you be better off sticking with your maternity pay? For example, do you have contractual maternity rights that entitle you to pay that is better than the statutory minimum weekly payment of just £148.68 or 90% of average weekly earnings if less? Remember also that SPL is paid at a flat rate throughout, whereas by contrast, the first six weeks of maternity or adoption leave are paid at a higher rate – 90% of actual earnings. This means that most employees are likely to be better off taking statutory maternity or adoption leave for the first six weeks.
- Are there other statutory rights that could be more useful to you as a couple, such as the right to request flexible working, or to take unpaid parental leave or paid annual leave?
- Personal considerations such as job security concerns, promotion prospects, illness, pension issues, other family members and so on.
If you give your notice to take shared parental leave before the birth and have not yet gone back to work, you can still change your mind within six weeks of the birth. Aside from this limited window, the scope for changing your mind is limited, so it is important to think carefully.