Share the joy

on 25 May 2018 Midwives Magazine Maternity Leave

A new campaign promotes shared parental leave rights so parents have the flexibility to combine work with family life.

Parents can now both share special moments with their baby in its first year by taking shared parental leave (SPL). The government has spent £1.5m on a campaign to ensure parents know about their rights.

Every year, around 285,000 couples are eligible to take SPL; however, take-up could be as low as 2%, and half of the general public are unaware the option exists for parents.

Introduced in 2015, SPL is a workplace right for eligible parents and aims to offer them choice when it comes to childcare. Parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay after having a baby, taking time off separately or being at home together for up to six months. This means that mothers can return to work sooner if they wish, and fathers can have more time to spend and bond with their baby. It also means that parents can choose to spend more time together as a family. SPL is paid at £145.18 per week or 90% of average earnings, whichever is lower.

Parents Leila Reyburn and Tom Markwell work for charities in London. They had a baby girl, Pearl, in 2016 and decided to take SPL, with Leila taking the first 10 months and Tom taking the final two months.

Leila says: ‘SPL meant I could say yes when the opportunity came for me to take a promotion at work. I could go back to work early to cover for my line manager while he was on secondment.

‘But it was also nice that I didn’t have to put Pearl into nursery at the same time and know she was bonding with her dad. It means she now has a strong connection with us both and is equally attached to us both.’ 

SPL key facts

Midwives are a key source of information for parents during pregnancy. Two key facts to convey when mentioning SPL and handing over the MAT B1 form are:

● Eligible parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave, taking it in up to three separate blocks, or sharing the time to have up to six months off together

● Parents can check their eligibility and find out more by visiting the SPL website at