July 7 2016

The government is reiterating that since April of this year, eligible fathers can share up to 39 weeks’ pay and up to 52 weeks of leave with the child’s mother in the first year of their baby’s life.

The scheme gives mothers the opportunity to return to work earlier if they wish. Parents can take up to six months off work at the same time or alternatively stagger their leave and pay so that one of them is always at home with their child.

Those eligible can take  any weeks of Maternity Leave that the mother does not intend to use as up to 50 weeks of Shared Parental Leave, and any weeks of Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance that the mother does not intend to use as up to 37 weeks of Shared Parental Pay.

Parents can decide how best they share leave, and whether to take it all at once or in blocks. The scheme allows parents to book up to three separate blocks of Shared Parental Leave instead of taking it all in one go.

To qualify, an employee must have been employed continuously by the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the ‘qualifying week’. To qualify for pay they must additionally have earned at least the lower earnings level (currently £112 a week) in an eight-week test period. The other parent must be employed or a self-employed earner who has worked for 26 weeks and earned £30 on average in any 13 of those weeks in the 66 weeks before the week the baby is due. The same principles apply to adopters.

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