How to share leave with your partner

If you are a mother entitled to statutory maternity leave (SML), you can share 50 weeks of the leave with your partner, provided you satisfy the qualifying conditions and follow the procedure for taking SPL. You can also share the pay.

SPL is available where the baby is due on or after 5 April 2015. The actual date of birth is not relevant, only the due date.

Partner includes the father, the mother’s partner (whether a spouse, civil partner or living together as a couple)

Even if you are not entitled to SML yourself, but only statutory maternity pay (for example where you have been dismissed during your pregnancy) or maternity allowance, you can transfer the pay to your partner who can then take SPL and pay, provided s/he is employed and satisfies thequalifying conditions.

Similar provisions apply to adopters and surrogate parents.

Key points

The mother must take at least two weeks compulsory leave;
Between you and your partner you can only take a maximum of 50 weeks SPL within the first year. This is reduced by the amount of maternity leave the mother has or intends to take;

  • The mother must either return to work or shorten her maternity leave so that the remaining leave is SPL, which either or both of you can take.
  • The mother can remain on maternity leave while the partner is, at the same time, on shared parental leave.
  • You can take SPL at the same time as your partner (eg both on leave for the first 26 weeks) or at separate times, or a mixture of both; you need to agree how to split the leave. The father is also entitled to 2 weeks’ paternity leave.
  • You can take up to three separate periods of SPL, so that you can take 10 weeks SPL, work for 6 weeks, take 10 weeks SPL, work for 6 weeks, take 6 weeks SPL. But SPL must be taken within a year of the babies’ birth.


  • Statutory maternity pay is paid at 90% of pay for the first 6 weeks or £139.58. If you move to SPL you will lose that higher rate as Shared Parental Pay is paid at a flat rate.
  • If your employer pays more than the minimum maternity pay, but does not enhance shared parental pay, you will lose out if you move from SML to SPL as you must be on maternity leave to get enhanced maternity pay.