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New parents have the right to Shared Parental Leave. What is this right and how do you apply for it?

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) allow eligible parents to choose how to share time off work. They can do this in the year after their child is born or placed with the family in the case of adoption.

Both SPL and ShPP are ‘created’ from maternity (or adoption) entitlement that mum (or adopter) does not intend to use (Maternity Action, 2022).

If both parents are eligible for SPL and/or ShPP, they can share the leave and pay that is available between them in any way that they wish. And/or they can take their leave and pay in a flexible way in up to three blocks or more if their employer(s) allow. Parents can choose to:

  • stagger their leave and pay so that one of them is always at home with their child in the first year
  • be off work together for a period of up to six months, giving them more time together as a family
  • do a combination of both.

If only one parent is eligible for SPL, the eligible parent may still want to use the scheme to take leave and pay in a flexible way. This could be particularly useful for mums who want to take more time off after they have returned to work following their maternity leave. 

This page was last reviewed in March 2022.

Further information

To hear more about SPL from parents who have used the scheme, visit You can also use the tools and guidance on GOV.UK to check if you are eligible for SPL and/or ShPP, plan your leave and pay and give your employer all of the information that they need.

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

You might find attending one of our NCT New Baby courses helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Maternity Action. (2022) Shared parental leave and pay. Available at: [Accessed 31st March 2022]

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