The procedure for taking SPL

The first step is for the mother to shorten her maternity leave by either:

  • Returning to work, or
  • Giving at least 8 weeks’ notice to her employer to end her maternity leave at a date in the future. This is called a curtailment notice. This can only be withdrawn in limited circumstances by serving a revocation notice before the leave curtailment date.

Note: once the mother has returned to work she cannot go back on maternity leave, but she can take SPL.

At the same time as the curtailment notice the mother must give the employer a notice of entitlement and intention to take SPL or a declaration that their partner has served such a notice:

The Notice of entitlement must set out:

  • How many weeks’ maternity leave the mother has taken or intends to take,
  • How many weeks SPL and pay is available to the employee and their partner,
  • How many weeks each intends to take,
  • An indication (non-binding) of how the employee will take the SPL.

The employee must also provide a declaration from their partner stating that:

  • The partner meets the employment and earnings test,
  • The partner agrees to the employee taking SPL.

There are similar (but not identical) provisions where the partner is requesting leave.

The employee must then complete a notice to book leave, setting out the start and finish of the leave. The employee may service up to three notices to book leave so they can alternate between working and SPL


  • Notices must be given at least 8 weeks before the start of SPL
  • If discontinuous leave is taken the period of working will reduce the amount of SPL (unless the partner’s SPL coincides with the period of working). SPL must be taken in the first year
  • If the employee requests only one period of leave, the employer must agree
  • If the employee sets out 2 or 3 separate periods of leave to be taken, the employer may refuse and the employee can withdraw the notice and instead give three separate notices each setting out a period of leave.

For example: M takes 20 weeks SML. M and P agree to take 30 weeks SPL between them. P takes SPL for the first 6 weeks, then works for 6 weeks. M works when P is on SPL and takes SPL when P is working. M takes the remaining SPL, which is 18 weeks.