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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) allows eligible parents to choose how to share time off work in the year after their child is born, or placed with the family in the case of adoption.

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

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 take their leave and pay in a flexible way (up to three blocks, 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. 

Updated April 2018

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 NCT's Early Days groups 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.

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