Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Shared parental leave
    1. Eligibility
    2. When can shared parental leave be taken?
    3. Continuous and discontinuous leave
    4. Informal conversations with your manager
  3. Making arrangements
    1. Binding Notice
    2. Written notice of entitlement and intention to take a period of shared parental leave
    3. Notice of changes
  4. Contact during shared parental leave
    1. Shared Parental Leave in Touch (SPLIT) days
    2. Keeping informed
  5. Shared Parental Pay
  6. Further guidance
    1. Returning to work
    2. No longer caring for the child
    3. Shared parental leave and the employment contract
    4. Impact on pension
    5. The stillbirth or death of a child
  7. Monitoring and review
  8. Breaches of policy
  9. Complaints

1. Introduction

The information in this guide applies to all eligible employees, both teaching and non-teaching who are either:

  • Employed under Local Government Services Green Book Conditions of Service
  • Employed within a Dorset LA school and are covered by the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document and the Burgundy Book
  • Employed by an Academy that follows nationally agreed conditions of service for either/both teaching or non-teaching staff.

Shared parental leave is available to eligible employees and enables both parents/partners to decide how to take leave for the purpose of looking after their child in the first year following the birth or adoption. Those eligible will be able to share leave and pay between them, even if the person works elsewhere.

Shared parental leave is only available if the mother or main adopter has given notice to end their entitlement to maternity or adoption leave and pay. The amount of leave and pay left over will be the amount available to share. The mother/main adopter can only share the remaining leave with one other person. Two weeks maternity/adoption support (paternity) leave is available to fathers and mothers or adopter's partner following the birth/placement of a child in addition to any shared parental leave.

Maternity/Adoption Leave or Shared Parental Leave?

If you are the mother or main adopter, you should think carefully before deciding to bring your maternity or adoption leave to an end to convert to shared parental leave. Depending on your eligibility and when you intend to take leave, you may be entitled to a lower rate of pay if you do convert your leave.

Sometimes only one parent will be eligible. For example if your partner is self-employed, they will not be entitled to shared parental leave themselves but if you meet with eligibility criteria (the employment and earnings test), you may still qualify and can choose which leave is most beneficial for you.

You are advised to take all of your individual circumstances into account before making a choice.

2. Shared Parental Leave

2.1. Eligibility

If the mother/main adopter ends their entitlement to maternity or adoption leave and there is leave remaining, there may be an entitlement to shared parental leave.

You must have a partner to be eligible for shared parental leave. You can only share leave with one other person who has responsibility for the child. The other person does not have to work for the School however they must be:

  • Your husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter OR
  • The child's other parent (whether or not still a couple) OR
  • Your partner (if they live with you and the child)

You OR your partner must be eligible for:

  • Maternity pay or leave or maternity allowance
  • Adoption pay or leave (this includes intended parents in a surrogacy (Parental Order Parents) and those who are dual approved prospective adopters (foster to adopt arrangement).

You must also have been employed continuously by the School/Local Authority for at least 26 weeks by:

  • The end of the fifteenth week before the due date OR
  • The date you are matched with your adoptive child/you have been notified by the Local Authority that a child will be placed with you in accordance of section 22C of the Children Act 1989 (for those who are part of a foster to adopt arrangement).

In addition your partner must meet the employment and earnings test. This means that during the 66 weeks before the baby is due/child is placed, your partner must:

The mother must take at least 2 weeks maternity leave following the birth of the baby and the main adopter can end adoption leave after taking it for 2 weeks. This means that 50 weeks shared parental leave is available in total.

2.2. When can shared parental leave be taken?

Parental leave can only begin once the child has been born or adopted. The mother/main adopter must have either ended any maternity or adoption leave and pay by returning to work or by giving 'binding notice' of the date when they plan to end this leave.

Once this binding notice has been given, shared parental leave can be taken by the partner whilst the mother or main adopter is still taking maternity or adoption leave.

Shared parental leave must be taken within the first year. This means it can be taken at any time from when the child is born/placed until 52 weeks after that date. Leave must be taken in complete weeks.

It is for you and your partner to choose how to share the leave provided you fulfil the formal notification procedures. You may decide to take the leave at the same time so that you are both home together or you may wish to take the leave at different times. You can take all of your share of the leave in one go or you can opt to take shorter separate periods of leave with a return to work in between. You can make up to 3 separate requests to take some of your shared parental leave.

2.3. Continuous and discontinuous leave

In any separate request, you can ask to take the number of weeks requested as:

  • A continuous period of leave (one ongoing block of leave) OR
  • A discontinuous period of leave (a number of weeks on leave and a number of weeks at work, taken in a pattern that you propose).

A request for a continuous period of leave cannot be refused by the employer. The School may wish to discuss and suggest alternative dates however you are entitled to take any continuous period of leave during the dates you have requested.

A request for a discontinuous period of leave must be considered by the School. If a request for discontinuous leave is refused then the total amount of leave requested will automatically become a continuous block, unless you withdraw your request within 15 days.

2.4. Informal conversations with the school

When you are planning your shared parental leave, you are encouraged to have early discussions with the School about your plans. This gives you plenty of opportunity to consider your different options but also means that the school can make arrangements for cover. As shared parental leave provides a lot of flexibility in the way it can be taken, these early conversations are beneficial to both you and the School. You don't need to confirm any plans until its time to give 8 week's notice.

3. Making arrangements

It is your responsibility to provide evidence of your eligibility to shared parental leave and pay and to provide the right information at the right time. This section explains when and how you need to provide this information.

3.1. Binding Notice: ending maternity/adoption leave

The mother/main adopter must give at least 8 weeks' notice to the School to end their maternity or adoption leave and pay before there is any entitlement to shared parental leave by completing the Shared Parental Leave Request form.

3.2. Written notice of entitlement and intention to take a period of shared parental leave

If you wish to take shared parental leave, (whether or not your partner is also employed by the School), it is your responsibility to provide the school with:

  • Written notice of your entitlement to shared parental leave and pay
  • 8 weeks written notice to take a period of shared parental leave

You are entitled to provide up to 3 separate written notices to take shared parental leave. Each request may be in relation to a continuous OR discontinuous period of leave. Each separate notice requires 8 weeks' notice.

Requests should be submitted using the Shared Parental Leave Request form. This tells the School the total amount of remaining leave and pay (if applicable) that you and your partner are eligible to share; how much of this you are intending to take and when. You are both required to sign the form, even if you are not both employed by the School.

When the form is complete you should submit it to your Headtecaher who will then forward the form to their Payroll provider.

3.3. Notice of changes to leave

You can change your mind about the date you want to start a period of parental leave and pay but you must give at least 8 weeks written notice before both:

  • The date you were meant to start your leave and
  • The new date you have chosen

If you give written notice to change you r mind about a period of leave, this is likely to count as one of your 3 written notices, depending on the reason why the leave is being changed. A written notice can be withdrawn and discounted from the total of 3 if:

  • You are withdrawing/making changes to a request for discontinuous leave that the school did not agree to
  • Your child was born earlier or later than the expected week of birth

To give notice of changes you should complete a new shared parental leave request form.

4. Contact during shared parental leave

4.1. Shared Parental Leave in Touch (SPLIT) days

You and your partner can both work up to 20 days during your shared parental leave without bringing the leave to an end. These are called shared parental leave in touch (SPLIT) days. SPLIT days are in addition to the 10 keeping in touch (KIT) days already available to those on maternity or adoption leave. Your shared paternity leave period will not be extended by KIT days.

SPLIT days are optional, and have to be agreed by both you and the school. Work may include training or any other activity undertaken for the purposes of keeping in touch with the workplace.

Any work you do as a SPLIT day, even as little as half an hour for example, will be counted as a whole day for the purposes of subtracting that SPLIT day from your SPLIT day's allowance.

You will be paid for any hours worked and these hours only. This will include the rate of statutory shared parental leave and will be topped up to the appropriate rates of pay in accordance with your contract of employment. The School will need to ensure that the time claimed is for a SPLIT day during shared parental leave so that the correct payment is made.

4.2. Keeping informed

The school should ensure that you are kept informed of any significant workplace developments, including discussions about your return to work. This type of contract is not considered to be work and does not count towards the 20 SPLIT days.

5. Shared Parental Pay

If you are entitled to shared parental leave, you may also be entitled to statutory shared parental pay (ShPP). If both you and your partner qualify for ShPP, you must decide who will receive it, or how it will be divided, and inform the school of your entitlement.

If you will be receiving ShPP, this will start when the relevant period of shared parental leave starts.

ShPP is available for up to 37 weeks of shared parental leave. (A total of 39 weeks ShPP is available, however as the mother/main adopter must take the first 2 weeks maternity or adoption leave, they will receive the appropriate rate of pay during this time in accordance with the applicable rate of maternity or adoption pay paid by the school.)

ShPP is paid at the current statutory rate (which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay/what-youll-get) or 90% of your average weekly earnings* (whichever is lower)

*Your average weekly earnings will be calculated by Payroll as an average of payments previously made to you during the 8 weeks prior to the end of the qualifying week. Calculations will be in accordance with The Statutory Shared Parental Pay (General) Regulations 2014.

Any remaining entitlement to shared parental leave, beyond those where ShPP is available, is unpaid.

The maximum amount of ShPP you can receive is the current statutory rate. Shared parental pay may be lower than any maternity or adoption pay you are alternatively entitled to, depending on when you choose to take the leave and pay*. There is no entitlement to convert occupational maternity pay or adoption pay to shared parental pay.

*Note that the rate of ShPP is the same as statutory maternity pay and statutory adoption pay. However, during the first six weeks, both statutory maternity and adoption pay are enhanced to be paid at 90% of your average earnings (with no maximum). Occupational maternity pay and adoption pay is available to eligible employees during the first 18 weeks.

6. Further guidance

6.1. Returning to work

You have the right to return to work after shared parental leave if you wish to do so. If you are unable to return to your job because of redundancy, you are entitled to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy where one exists.

If you're returning on the date agreed, you don't need to do anything. If you want to change the date, you will need to give appropriate notice of the changes.

You may wish to consider requesting flexible working arrangements for your return to work. You may be able to agree arrangements that suit you by using discontinuous periods of leave and/or SPLIT days. If you want to change your working arrangements on an on-going basis, please view the flexible working guidance to find out more and help you consider your options. Please note that any change in your contract on your return from shared parental leave will be permanent and you will not have the right to return to your previous contract, unless a trial period is agreed.

If you decide that you do not want to return to work following shared parental leave, you should give notice in accordance with your normal contractual notice period.

6.2. No longer caring for the child

If you have booked shared parental leave and will no longer be responsible for caring for the child, you no longer have an entitlement to shared parental leave or pay and must inform the School of the change in circumstances.

6.3. Shared parental leave and your employment contract

While you are on shared parental leave your employment is regarded as continuous. This means you continue to build up your entitlement to benefits such as annual leave and sick pay entitlements. Entitlement to any salary sacrifice benefits, such as childcare vouchers also continues when you take shared parental leave.

6.4. Impact on your pension

If you are a member of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) the amount of pension you build up won't be affected by any period of shared parental leave. This means that if you have a period of reduced pay or no pay during your shared parental leave, your pension is still worked out using an average of your usual pensionable pay.

If you are a member of the Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS) and are receiving pay during your shared parental leave then your pensionable service will continue and your contributions will be based on the pay you get whilst you are on leave. If you're not receiving pay however, you cannot choose to continue to make pension contributions during the unpaid period of leave - these days will be regarded as 'excluded days'. 

More information on either scheme can be found on the LGPS website or the TPS website.

6.5. The stillbirth or death of a child

If the child dies before you have submitted a notice of entitlement to take shared parental leave, you cannot opt into shared parental leave because a qualifying condition is caring for a child. If you are the mother, you will still be entitled to the benefits of maternity leave and pay.

If you are affected by miscarriage, stillbirth or death of a baby, a range of useful services and resources are available from the employee wellbeing service. A staff counselling service is also offered (school to delete if they do not buy into this service).

7. Monitoring and review

Shared Parental Leave will be recorded through normal school procedures. Application of the policy will be monitored by the school to assess the provision of equality of opportunity.

8. Breaches of policy

Any abuse of this policy will be dealt with under the school's Disciplinary Procedures.

9. Complaints

Employees can raise a matter through the school's Grievance Procedure if they believe that they have:

  • Been unreasonably refused shared parental leave
  • Been subjected to detriment for seeking or taking shared parental leave
  • Been dismissed for seeking or taking shared parental leave

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