Shared parental leave

Shared parental leave (SPL) is an entitlement eligible parents can use by curtailing maternity leave and allowing one or both parents to take the remaining time as SPL instead. 

SPL is becoming more widely requested by teachers and leaders who are choosing to return to work on full pay at the start of a school holiday period and then take blocks of SPL during term time.  There are certain criteria that must be met to allow SPL to be taken, but if met, employees may take this entitlement.

Clearly, this can present additional costs to schools who may have employed someone to cover maternity leave and then have to pay the school holiday periods in between the blocks of SPL at full pay.

However, there is a misconception that this is an issue which other industries and businesses do not face. Whilst they may not face exactly the same issue, they do have to allow employees to use up their accrued annual leave before or after maternity leave. So, an employee may return to work but then take six weeks of accrued annual leave which would be on full pay. The business would also have to pay for the role to be covered during this additional time.

Businesses are also more likely to offer maternity (and paternity) leave and pay which is much more generous than the provisions of the Burgundy Book.

Using SPL in this way can address some of the imbalance caused by this. Additionally, as women aged 30-39 are the largest group of teachers to leave the profession each year, SPL can serve as a much-needed recruitment and retention tool to ensure that teachers and leaders who go on maternity leave do not leave the profession entirely.

GOV.UK: Shared parental leave and pay
Acas: Shared parental leave and pay

Related information 
Two-thirds of businesses may now provide enhanced maternity pay, poll finds, People Management (2021)
Women in Leadership, Bright Horizons
Parental leave benchmark blog, Bright Horzizons 
Employer Focus on Working Parents, report by CIPD, August 2022

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