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Shared parental leave

Congratulations and we wish you all the best for this next chapter.

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) enables eligible parents to choose how to share the care of their child (or in the case of multiple births or adoptions, children) during the first year of birth or adoption. Its purpose is to give parents more flexibility in considering how to best care for, and bond with, their child. All eligible employees have a statutory right to take Shared Parental Leave. There may also be an entitlement to some Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). This procedure sets out the statutory rights and responsibilities of employees who wish to take statutory Shared Parental Leave and the University Shared Parental Pay (UShPP) and/or statutory Shared Parental Pay (SShPP).

This procedure applies to employees of the University whether they are the mother/primary adopter or the partner of the mother/primary adopter. If the mother/primary adopter is employed by the University of Exeter, then their partner must submit any relevant notifications to their employer, which may have its own Shared Parental Leave policy, if they wish to take a period of Shared Parental Leave. Similarly, if the partner is employed by the University, then the mother/primary adopter must submit any notifications to her own employer to take Shared Parental Leave. 

The Shared Parental Leave Policy can be printed as pdf document.

Please note: The Shared Parental Leave regulations are very complex and in the light of future interpretation and guidance, the University reserves the right to revise these procedures and guidance. Consequently, these arrangements must be kept flexible to adapt and are not contractual.

Shared Parental Leave can only be used by two people:

  • The mother/primary adopter and
  • One of the following:
    • the father of the child (in the case of birth) or
    • the spouse, civil partner or partner of the child's mother/primary adopter.

Both parents must share the main responsibility for the care of the child at the time of the birth/placement for adoption.

Mothers of babies due and adoptive parents may be able to bring their maternity/adoption leave to an end early (in the statutory regulations this is called “curtailment”) and convert the balance of the leave into Shared Parental Leave. This leave can then be taken by either the mother/primary adopter or father/secondary adopter or in some cases, the mother/primary adoptive parent’s husband or partner. The leave must be taken in blocks of at least one week (they must be whole weeks).

There are different qualifying arrangements for the pay and leave. We recommend all employees check the government eligibility calculator. Please note that this should just be used as an eligibility calculator for statutory purposes as the University has an enhanced pay scheme for those that are eligible.

There is no qualifying length of service requirement for Shared Parental Leave (ShPL) or University Shared Parental Pay (USPP) however staff need to fulfil Statutory Shared Parental Pay (SSPP) qualification requirements to receive statutory pay.

Shared Parental Leave and Shared Parental Pay are separate entitlements. Shared Parental Pay payments may consist of two elements, statutory Shared Parental Pay and University Shared Parental Pay.

There are different qualifying arrangements for the pay and leave. We recommend all employees check the government eligibility calculator. Please note that this should just be used as an eligibility calculator and not for pay purposes as the University has an enhanced pay scheme for those that are eligible.

Shared Parental Leave and Shared Parental Pay cannot commence until the end of the compulsory two-week maternity or adoption leave period.

University Shared Parental Pay (UShPP)

Some employees will be eligible for the University Shared Parental Pay (UShPP), which is the pay that the University pays over and above statutory Shared Parental Pay (SShPP). Entitlement to the University Shared Parental Pay will depend on:

  • meeting the eligibility requirements set out on the eligibility tab above
  • giving the appropriate notice
  • opting to take statutory Shared Parental Pay at the same time as the University Shared Parental Pay scheme and
  • returning to work following your leave for a period of at least 3 months (or an equivalent period of time if you reduce your hours).

If the above requirements are met, you will be eligible to receive the benefits of the University Shared Parental Pay Scheme. This will be subject to how much maternity/adoption leave has been taken, and how the Shared Parental Leave and pay are shared between the parents. 

Please note that the amounts below are the maximum you can claim if the other parent does not take any time (other than the first two compulsory weeks for mother/primary adopter) during the first 9 months and you only take two weeks of paternity leave

You may be entitled to (in chronological order of Shared Parental Leave):

If you are working at the University at the start date of your Shared Parental Leave and you earn above the lower earnings level, you will be eligible for the  University Shared Parental Pay at:

Up to 24 weeks (following 2 weeks compulsory maternity/adoption leave)


only in the weeks 2-26 following the start date of maternity/adoption leave[1]

University Shared Parental Pay at the rate of your full pay inclusive of Statutory Shared Parental Pay (SShPP).
Up to 13 weeks You may opt to take any remaining Statutory Shared Parental Pay (up to 13 weeks’ worth) if eligible.
Up to 13 weeks Unpaid leave
If you are working at the University at the start date of your Shared Parental Leave and you earn below the lower earnings level and/or you do not have 26 weeks’ continuous service you will be eligible for the UShPP at:

Up to 24 weeks (following compulsory maternity/adoption leave)


only in the weeks 2-26 following the start date of maternity/adoption leave

University Shared Parental Pay at the rate of your full pay (less deductions for benefits paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Please note you are required to notify your HR Business Contact of any payments you receive from DWP. 
13 weeks of benefits from DWP (if eligible).
13 weeks unpaid leave.

[1] Please note that Shared Parental Leave also cannot begin until the birth of the child/placement of the child.

Statutory Shared Parental Pay (SShPP)

Statutory Shared Parental Pay is paid at a statutory flat rate set by the government for up to 39 weeks’ pay, less any week where SMP/MA/SAP is received, within the 52 weeks following the birth or placement of the child. Within the framework of the regulations parents can decide who is paid the statutory amount and when.

Consequently, within the University scheme employees can choose whether, if eligible, to receive statutory Shared Parental Pay only or a combined Statutory Shared Parental Pay and University Shared Parental Pay.

If you are eligible for University Shared Parental Pay but are undecided about whether you wish to return to work you may request that the University Shared Parental Pay element of your Shared Parental Pay be deferred. If you decide to return to work then payment can be made as a lump sum.

The first two weeks after birth/adoption must be taken as compulsory maternity leave/adoption leave by the mother/primary adopter.

Eligible parents/partners will then be able to share a maximum of 50 weeks leave including 37 weeks’ statutory pay (as below), for the purpose of caring for a child within the first year of the child’s life or in the year after the child is placed for adoption. Where you or the other parent have already taken maternity or adoption leave and pay in respect of the same birth or adoption the equivalent amount of leave and pay will be deducted from the start of your University Shared Parental Pay.

Both parents must satisfy the eligibility criteria and at least one parent must be employed by the University of Exeter.

Please note that:

  • Shared Parental Leave cannot be taken until the birth or the placement of the child.
  • once the mother/primary adopter has given their employer a maternity/adoption leave curtailment notice it can only be withdrawn in very limited circumstances (see below), and can’t be withdrawn if they have already returned to work. The mother/primary adopter will then only be able to take Shared Parental Leave and cannot opt back into maternity/adoption leave.
  • if the father/partner intends to take Paternity/Maternity support Leave and Pay this should be taken before the commencement of the Shared Parental Leave/University Shared Parental Pay. Paternity Leave/Pay cannot be taken after Shared Parental Leave/University Shared Parental Pay.

Limited circumstances for withdrawing the curtailment of maternity/adoption leave:

  • within eight weeks of the mother submitting notice to end their maternity/adoption leave it transpires that neither parent qualifies for Shared Parental Leave or Shared Parental Pay;
  • when notice was given before birth, it may be withdrawn without a reason up to six weeks following the birth;
  • the partner dies.

Shared Parental Leave is designed to offer flexibility for parents caring for children in their first year of life or the first year of placement following an adoption. It must be taken in complete weeks. It can be taken as one continuous block or separate blocks of complete weeks. It does not need to start as soon as a mother/primary adopter curtails their entitlement to maternity/adoption leave. You have the right to submit three notifications specifying leave periods you are intending to take.

Continuous leave notifications

A notification can be for a period of continuous leave, which means a notification of a number of weeks taken in a single unbroken period of leave (for example, six consecutive weeks).

You have the right to take a continuous block of leave notified in a single notification, so long as it does not exceed the total number of weeks of Shared Parental Leave available to you (specified in the notice of entitlement) and you have given the University at least eight weeks’ notice.

You may submit up to three separate notifications for continuous periods of leave. 

Discontinuous leave notifications

A single notification may also contain a request for two or more periods of discontinuous leave, which means asking for a set number of weeks of leave over a period of time, with breaks between the leave where you return to work (for example, an arrangement where you take two months of Shared Parental Leave, return to work for two months and then have another period of Shared Parental Leave for two months).

Where there is concern over accommodating the notification, you or the University may seek to arrange a meeting or have the discussion via telephone, email or skype (if appropriate) to discuss the notification with a view to agreeing an arrangement that meets both yours and the University’s needs.  This procedure allows for a two week discussion period.

The University will consider a discontinuous leave notification but has the right to refuse it.  If the leave pattern is refused, you can either withdraw it within fifteen days of making the original request notification, or can take the leave in a single continuous block, in which case you should choose a start date that is at least eight weeks from the date on which you originally notified the University. You must notify the University of your decision (in writing) within five days of the end of the two-week discussion period. If you do not notify the University then the period of leave will begin on the date on which you had requested to start your first period of SHPL as a single continuous block.  A notice that is withdrawn before it is agreed does not count towards the three requests you can make.

All requests must be submitted to your line manager with your HRBP copied in using either PD48a or PD48bPD48b‌.

Any employee considering taking Shared Parental Leave is encouraged to contact their line manager and their HR contact as early as possible to discuss eligibility and options available.

The University has developed forms to complete that meet the eligibility criteria of “notice” (which is the terminology used in the statutory regulations) as set out below. Please ensure you use these forms. If necessary the University may seek additional evidence. The process of applying for leave is set out in the Shared Parental Leave Flowchart. Please ensure that you have discussed your dates with your manager.

Mothers/primary adopters employed by the University

If you are the mother/primary adopter and you are employed by the University, are entitled and intending to take Shared Parental Leave and University and or statutory Shared Parental Pay, you must give notice of your Shared Parental Leave as outlined below using form PD48a (giving at least eight weeks’ notice);

  • A maternity/adoption leave and pay curtailment notice to your line manager and HRBP and;
  • A notice of entitlement and intention giving an initial non-binding indication of leave (giving at least 8 weeks’ notice) and;
  • A period of leave notice (PLN PD48c) giving at least eight weeks’ notice of a binding agreement of the leave to be taken.

Partners employed by the University

If you are the partner and you are employed by the University, are entitled and intending to take Shared Parental Leave and Shared Parental Pay, you must give notice of your Shared Parental Leave as below using form PD48b (giving at least eight weeks’ notice);

  • A notice of entitlement and intention giving an initial non-binding indication of leave, signed by yourself and the mother/primary adopter and;
  • A period of leave notice (PLN PD48c) giving at least eight weeks’ notice of a binding agreement of the leave to be taken.

Additional evidence

The University may request a copy of the child’s birth certificate and the contact details for the employee’s partner’s employer. In adoption cases, the University may also request contact details for the adoption agency. If requested, these details must be provided within 14 days.

Once a notice for curtailment has been given it is binding except where the limited circumstances for withdrawing are met (see above).

You can amend or cancel an agreed and booked period of Shared Parental Leave provided it is done in writing to your line manager and copied to your HRBP/Advisor at least eight weeks before the start of the leave period. You can

  • Vary the start or end date of any period of leave or cancel the request for leave
  • Request that a continuous period of leave becomes discontinuous
  • Request that a discontinuous period of leave becomes continuous

You must include details of the agreed leave, the changes you are requesting and it must also be agreed and signed by your partner.

This will count as one of the three notifications you are entitled to make, unless it is being done because the child was born early or if the University has requested the change (and the employee has agreed).

HR Services will confirm the change in writing.

If your child is born before their expected due date and you have booked to take SPL within the first eight weeks of the due date, you may take the same period of time off after the actual birth without having to provide eight weeks’ notice, by submitting a notice to vary your leave as soon as is reasonably practicable unlike most other variation notices, this would not count as one of the your three notifications.

Any leave arranged after the first eight weeks of the due date is still bound by the eight-week notice required to vary leave.

If your child is born more than eight weeks before their expected due date and the notice of entitlement to SPL and/or a notice to book SPL have not yet been given, then there is no requirement to give eight weeks’ notice before the period of leave starts. The notices should be given as soon as is reasonably practicable after the actual birth.

In the case of a multiple birth or the adoption of more than one child, the parents are entitled to the same benefits as if they were having one child.

If you have submitted your notice of entitlement and have booked leave, you will be able to take the leave. Unfortunately, no further booking of leave can take place and you may only be allowed to submit one variation to either reduce the block or move a discontinuous block to a continuous one.

If you have not submitted your notice of entitlement then you cannot opt into Shared Parental Leave.