Employed mothers remain entitled to 52 weeks statutory maternity leave (SML) and 39 weeks statutory maternity pay (SMP). If eligible for SPL, the mother can choose to transfer some of her maternity leave (and pay) to her partner so he (and/or she) can take up to 50 weeks’ SPL in the child’s first year.
SPL is more flexible than maternity leave, but if you want to take 52 weeks off you may be better off staying on maternity leave. SPL is good for you if:
- You want to share the caring of your child with your partner in the first year
- You want time off together, for example you could take maternity leave for the first 26 weeks and your partner could take 26 weeks SPL at the same time; or you can take time off at separate times or a mixture of both
- You want to work up to 20 days during SPL (SPLIT days) Note: You can work 10 days during SML (KIT days), but both only with your employer’s agreement
- You want to take leave in separate chunks, working in between, which can only be done during SPL, not SML. Note: you may lose some of the 50 weeks (unless you share them with your partner) as the weeks you are working will reduce your SPL; SPL can only be taken in the baby’s first year
- You want to work during leave for financial reasons or to help you keep in touch with work; you can do this with SPL and/or taking SPLIT days
- You want to take some paid holiday during the first year.
BUT check whether you are better off financially on maternity leave or SPL, eg:
o You need to remain on maternity leave for the first 6 weeks so you get earnings related SMPwhich is normally 90% of your pay for the first 6 weeks); Shared parental pay is paid only at a flat rate throughout;
- If you are entitled to enhanced maternity pay but not enhanced shared parental pay, you need to remain on maternity leave;
- Your partner’s financial situation? Does s/he earn more or less than you and is s/he entitled to enhanced shared parental pay?
o Do you want/need to work during the first year for financial reasons?;
- Might you want to take paid holiday during any period you are at work?;
- Is there a risk that your partner will decide they do not want to take leave after all; once you have curtailed your maternity leave you cannot usually change your mind.
Remember: Once you have opted for SPL, you cannot change your mind (except in limited circumstances), even if the relationship with your partner breaks down.