What SPL can I take and how?
If you’re eligible, and you, or your partner end maternity or adoption leave and pay (or maternity allowance) early, you can take:
- the rest of the 52 weeks of maternity or adoption leave as SPL (ie up to 50 weeks)
- the rest of the 39 weeks of maternity or adoption pay (or maternity allowance) as ShPP
You can apply for leave to be taken as either a continuous block of leave or discontinuous blocks of leave.
What is continuous leave?
Continuous leave is taken in complete weeks without a return to work in-between.
You have a statutory right to take the leave this way. You need to give written notice of entitlement at least eight weeks before you intend to take the leave.
Written notices of entitlement must contain specific information for the employer. Many employers will have a template for parents to use.
If not and if you are a BMA member, one of our advisers can assist you to provide the correct information, but it is important that if you are interested in making an application for SPL that you consider this process in good time.
If, however, your child arrives earlier than the due date and you have already notified your employer the date you intend to start your leave, then you can simply send them an amended or varied notice bringing forward the start date.
If the baby arrives before you have served notice then the 8 week notice period may be reduced to accommodate your needs.
Please note: the full eight weeks’ notice will be required if you decide to make any changes to how much SPL you intend to take.
If you are a BMA member and have any questions about this please contact one of our advisers on 0300 123 1233.
What are discontinuous blocks of leave?
Discontinuous blocks of leave can be requested in blocks with a return to work in-between.
Up to three separate notices (each of eight weeks) can be given.
The employer may accept more, or may accept one that covers all of the discontinuous blocks.
There is a 14-calendar-day period from the date of the request to discuss the request. If the request is not agreed then the total amount of leave in the request must be taken as one continuous block unless the employee withdraws their notice and submits a new request.
Note: SPL and ShPP must be taken between the baby’s birth and first birthday – or within one year of adoption; if it is not, it will be lost.
How many blocks of leave can I take?
Eligible employees have a statutory right to a maximum of three separate blocks of leave. If both parents are taking SPL they can take their leave at the same time as each other or at different times.
Can I split the blocks of leave?
Yes, if your employer agrees, you can split a block of leave into shorter periods of at least a week. For example, you could work every other week during a 12-week block, using a total of six weeks of your SPL.
Can my employer turn down a request for a block of leave?
No, your employer can’t turn down a request for a block of leave if you are eligible and you have given the right notice. However, your employer can refuse to break the block of leave into shorter periods if it has a detrimental impact on the service.
The employer will consider a discontinuous leave notification on a case-by-case basis, weighing up the potential benefits to the employee and themselves against any potential adverse impact to the service. However, the employer has the right to refuse it.
If the leave pattern is refused, you can either withdraw it within 15 days of giving it, or take the leave in a single continuous block.
Please note: the employer agreeing to one request for discontinuous leave will not set a precedent, or create the right for another employee to be granted a similar pattern of SPL.
What happens if my notice for a discontinuous leave pattern is refused?
You may withdraw the request (in writing) without detriment on or before the 15th day after the notification was given. Alternatively, you may take the total number of weeks in the notice in a single continuous block.
If you withdraw the request you are entitled to make a further three requests.
If you do choose to take the leave in a single continuous block, you have until the 19th day from the date the original notification was given, to choose when you want the leave period to begin.
The leave cannot start sooner than eight weeks from the date the original notification was submitted. If you do not choose a start date, the leave will begin on the first leave date requested in the original notification.
Your employer should confirm what has been agreed in respect of the request and how many requests are now available to you.
Can my employer refuse SPL or ShPP?
Yes, if you do not qualify for SPL or ShPP your employer will refuse your request.Your employer must tell you the reason for refusing ShPP, however, they are not required to give you a reason for refusing SPL.
Variations to arranged SPL
You can vary or cancel an agreed and booked period of SPL, provided you advise the employer in writing at least eight weeks before the date of any variation.
Any new start date cannot be sooner than eight weeks from the date of the variation request.
Any variations should be confirmed in writing.
Will the variation or cancellation notification, including notice to return to work early, count as one of my three requests available?
Normally it will. However, a change as a result of a child being born early, or as a result of the employer requesting it to be changed (that the employee agrees to), will not count as further notification.