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How To Calculate Maternity, Paternity, And Shared Parental Leave Pay

How To Calculate Maternity, Paternity, And Shared Parental Leave Pay

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on understanding the intricate world of maternity allowance, statutory paternity pay, and shared parental pay. Whether you’re eagerly anticipating the arrival of a new family member or you’re an employer looking to support your staff through this life-changing journey, this guide is tailored just for you.

Embarking on parental leave can bring a mix of excitement and uncertainty. You might be wondering about the specifics of maternity allowance, how much SPL you’re entitled to, or the intricacies of calculating paternity leave pay. It’s a journey that requires navigating a labyrinth of information, and we’re here to light the path for you.

In this guide, we’ll delve into each aspect of parental leave pay – from the basics of maternity allowance to the flexibility offered by shared parental pay. Understanding how much SPL you can take, how it’s calculated, and how it can be combined with other types of leave, are essential pieces of knowledge that can transform your experience from daunting to empowering.

So, whether you’re counting down the days until your new arrival or ensuring your workplace is a supportive environment for expecting parents, let’s journey through the essentials of parental leave pay together.

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Highlights And Key Takeaways:

  1. Eligible parents for maternity pay and paternity pay must have worked for their employer continuously for at least 26 weeks up to the ‘qualifying week’ (the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth) and meet the employment and earnings test (average weekly earnings are at least equal to the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions (£123).
  2. Statutory Maternity Pay and Paternity Leave Pay is either £172.48 or 90% of the average weekly earnings – whichever is lower.

Understanding Maternity Leave Pay

Understanding Maternity Allowance

This section is your guide to understanding maternity leave pay – a must-read whether you’re mapping out your journey into parenthood or an employer ensuring your team members are well-informed and supported.

Eligibility Criteria: Who Can Claim Maternity Leave Pay?

To be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), there are a few boxes you need to tick. As an employee, you must have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks up to the ‘qualifying week’ – the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. You also need to meet the employment and earnings test, where your average weekly earnings are at least equal to the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions (£123).

If you don’t qualify for SMP, don’t worry – Maternity Allowance is your go-to alternative. It’s designed for those who are self-employed or who haven’t met the employment test for SMP.

How to Calculate Maternity Pay: A Step-by-Step Guide

Calculating maternity pay isn’t as daunting as it seems. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Gather Your Employee’s Salary Details: For employers, this means digging into your payroll records. For employees, this is about knowing your average pay.
  2. Calculate the Average Weekly Earnings: This calculation is crucial and is based on the employee’s salary details before the qualifying week.
  3. Applying the SMP Rates: For the first six weeks, SMP is 90% of the average weekly earnings. After that, it’s either £172.48 or 90% of the average weekly earnings – whichever is lower – for the next 33 weeks.
  4. Consider Full Pay Options: Some employers offer ‘enhanced maternity pay’, which tops up the statutory amount. This could mean full pay for a certain period, depending on your company’s policy. Details of statutory maternity pay and enhanced maternity pay should be outlined in the employment contact under ‘special leave provisions’ – find out more by reading our guide The Hiring Blueprint: UK Contract Of Employment Template, one of our free recruitment resources for employers and HR professionals.

Common Questions Answered:

  • Duration: Maternity leave can start from 11 weeks before your baby is due, up to the birth. You’re entitled to up to 52 weeks of leave, but only 39 weeks are paid.
  • Start Date: The earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. However, it can also automatically start if you’re off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.
  • Returning to Work: If you plan to return to work earlier than expected, you need to give your employer 8 weeks’ notice.

This section is your trusty companion in navigating the world of maternity leave pay. Whether you’re an expectant mother or an employer, understanding these fundamentals ensures a smooth and supportive transition into this new and exciting phase of life.

Statutory Paternity Leave Pay

Whether you’re preparing to welcome a new addition to your family or you’re an employer supporting your staff through this life-changing event, understanding paternity leave pay is crucial. This section demystifies the process and ensures you’re equipped with all the necessary information.

Qualifying for Paternity Pay: Are You Eligible?

To be eligible for Statutory Paternity Pay, there are specific criteria to meet:

  • Employment Duration: You must have been employed continuously by the same employer for at least 26 weeks, ending with the 15th week before the baby is due.
  • Earnings Threshold: Your earnings must be at least equal to the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions.

Calculating Paternity Leave Pay: Simplifying the Numbers

Calculating paternity leave pay is straightforward. Here’s a simple guide:

  1. Determine Your Eligibility: First, ensure you meet the employment and earnings criteria.
  2. Understand the Rates: Statutory Paternity Pay is either £172.48 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. This rate is the same as the standard rate for shared parental pay.
  3. Calculate the Pay Period: Typically, paternity leave is for 1 or 2 weeks, and the pay is calculated based on the chosen duration.

Key Considerations: Duration and Combining with Shared Parental Leave

  • Duration: Paternity leave can be either one week or two consecutive weeks. Remember, it can’t be odd days or two separate weeks.
  • Combining with Shared Parental Leave: If you’re planning to take Shared Parental Leave, it’s important to understand how this interacts with paternity leave. Shared Parental Leave can offer more flexibility and time off, but it must be taken after any paternity leave is completed.

Understanding paternity leave pay helps in planning for your family’s future without financial worry. For employers, it ensures you’re providing the right support and information to your team members at this critical time. By navigating these waters with clarity, you can focus on what truly matters – welcoming the new member of your family.

Demystifying Shared Parental Leave Pay

Statutory Shared Parental Pay

Navigating the complexities of Shared Parental Leave Pay (ShPP) can seem daunting, whether you’re planning your family’s future or as an employer, ensuring your staff are well-informed. This section breaks down the essentials, providing clarity and confidence in understanding this valuable entitlement.

Shared Parental Leave Explained: What is it and Who Qualifies?

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) is a flexible option allowing eligible parents to share leave and pay following the birth or adoption of their child. It’s available to:

  • Birth parents and statutory adoption pay recipients.
  • Partners of birth parents, including same-sex partners.
  • Parents who meet the employment and earnings criteria to qualify for shared parental pay.

The aim is to give parents more flexibility in how they care for their child during the first year after birth or adoption.

A Guide to Calculating Shared Parental Pay: Ensuring You Get What You’re Entitled To

Calculating your Shared Parental Pay entitlement involves a few key steps:

  1. Confirm Eligibility: Both parents must meet the work and pay criteria, similar to statutory maternity or paternity pay.
  2. Understand the Rates: Statutory shared parental pay ShPP is paid at the rate of £172.48 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.
  3. Plan the Shared Parental Leave Dates: Decide how you and your partner want to split the SPL. You can take leave simultaneously or at different times.

Case Studies: Examples to Help You Understand Different Scenarios

  • Case Study 1: A couple decides to take SPL simultaneously for 3 months after the birth parent returns to work, maximising time with their child.
  • Case Study 2: Only one parent takes the initial months after birth, and the partner qualifies to take the remaining weeks leave later in the year.
  • Case Study 3: A couple take enhanced shared parental pay from their employer who offers more than the statutory minimum. Enhanced shared parental pay and leave should be stipulated in the employee’s written statement of employment particulars.

Each case demonstrates the flexibility and adaptability of SPL, catering to different family needs and circumstances. For eligible parents, SPL offers an invaluable opportunity to balance work and family commitments in a way that suits them best.

By understanding the intricacies of Shared Parental Leave Pay, both employees and employers can navigate this period with greater ease and assurance, ensuring that everyone involved is supported and informed.

Combining Different Types Of Leave

Combining Different Types Of Leave

In the dynamic landscape of parental leave, understanding how different types of leave interact is crucial for both employees planning their family life and employers supporting their staff. This section sheds light on the synergy between Maternity, Paternity, and Shared Parental Leave, offering strategies to maximise these benefits.

Understanding the Interaction: How Maternity, Paternity, and Shared Parental Leave Work Together

  • Maternity Leave: This is the initial leave period available to the birth mother. It can last up to 52 weeks, with the first 39 weeks potentially being paid.
  • Paternity Leave: Available to the partner of the birth mother or adopter, this leave can be taken as either one or two consecutive weeks.
  • Shared Parental Leave (SPL): Once the birth mother ends her maternity leave, the remaining time can be converted into SPL. This allows parents to share the parental leave or adoption leave and care in a more flexible way.

These types of leave can be tailored to fit your family’s needs. For example, a mother might decide to shorten her maternity leave to enable her partner to take a longer period of SPL, ensuring continuous care for their child in the first year.

Strategy for Maximising Your Leave Benefits: Tips and Tricks

  1. Plan Early: Discuss and plan your leave preferences with your partner and employer as early as possible. This ensures everyone is on the same page and can help in maximising the leave benefits available to you.
  2. Understand Employer Policies: Some employers offer enhanced leave benefits. Knowing these can help you make informed decisions about how to use your statutory leave entitlements effectively.
  3. Consider Financial Implications: Work out the financial aspects of taking different types of leave. Sometimes, a combination of leave types can be financially more beneficial.
  4. Flexibility: Be open to adjusting your plans. The flexibility of SPL means you can adapt your leave arrangements as your circumstances or preferences change.
  5. Communication: Keep a continuous dialogue with your employer. Regular updates can help in managing workload and ensuring a smooth transition back to work.

By understanding how these different types of leave interact and applying strategies to maximise their benefits, you can create a leave plan that supports your family’s needs while balancing your professional responsibilities. For employers, providing clear information and flexible options can significantly aid your staff during this significant life event, fostering a supportive and understanding workplace culture.

Navigating Enhanced Pay Options

In the realm of parental leave, enhanced pay options can make a significant difference for families navigating this new chapter. Whether you’re an expectant parent or an employer planning your team’s leave policies, understanding enhanced pay options is key to making the most of these benefits.

Enhanced Maternity/Paternity Pay: What is it and Who Offers It?

  • What is Enhanced Pay? Enhanced maternity or paternity pay is where employers go above and beyond the statutory requirements. This can mean offering more than the standard rate of pay or extending the duration of paid leave.
  • Who Offers Enhanced Pay? It’s typically at the discretion of the employer. Some organisations, keen to support their staff and promote a family-friendly workplace, offer these enhanced benefits. However, it’s not a statutory requirement.

How Enhanced Pay Impacts Standard Leave Entitlements

  • Beyond Statutory Requirements: Enhanced pay doesn’t replace statutory maternity or paternity pay but supplements it. This means, as an employee, you can receive a higher level of pay during your leave than the statutory minimum.
  • Policy Variations: Each employer’s policy on enhanced pay may differ. Some might offer full pay for a portion of the maternity or paternity leave, while others might extend the period of paid leave.
  • Impact on Leave Decisions: Understanding your own employer’s policy on enhanced pay can significantly impact how you plan your leave. For instance, it might influence your decision to return to work or extend your time off.
  • For Employers: Offering enhanced pay can be a strategic decision. It not only supports your staff but can also enhance employee loyalty and attract talent.

In summary, navigating the terrain of enhanced maternity and paternity pay involves understanding what your own employer offers and how it can complement your standard leave entitlements. This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions about your leave, ensuring that you maximise the benefits available to you during this precious time with your new family member. For employers, it’s about understanding the value these enhanced benefits bring not just to your employees, but to your organisation as a whole.

Employee Rights, Entitlements, And Responsibilities

Employee Rights

As you embark on the journey of parenthood, it’s crucial to understand the landscape of your rights, entitlements, and responsibilities. This knowledge ensures that both employees and employers can navigate this significant life stage with clarity and confidence.

Knowing Your Rights: Legal Protections for Parents

  • Maternity Allowance and Statutory Pay: You’re entitled to maternity allowance or statutory pay if you meet certain criteria. This is a fundamental right, ensuring financial support during your leave.
  • Employment Contract Entitlements: While on leave, your contract entitlements remain intact. This includes protection against redundancy and unfair dismissal, maintaining your employment rights even when you’re not actively working.
  • Holiday Entitlement: Your annual leave accrues as usual during maternity, paternity, or shared parental leave. You have the right to take this leave once you return to work.
  • Pension Rights: Pension contributions continue as per your employment contract during paid leave periods. This is essential for long-term financial planning.
  • Redundancies During Parental Leave: If redundancies occur while you’re on leave, you have additional protections. You must be offered suitable alternative employment where available.

Your Responsibilities: Notification and Documentation Requirements

  • Leave Notice: You must give your employer proper notice about your intention to take leave. This usually involves providing a ‘MAT B1’ form, which confirms your due date.
  • Variation Notice: If you wish to change your leave dates, a ‘variation notice’ is required, typically at least eight weeks before your new leave date.
  • Curtailment Notice: To curtail (end) your maternity leave and start shared parental leave, you must provide a ‘curtailment notice’ to your employer.
  • Binding Notice: Once a leave notice is given, it’s binding unless both you and your employer agree to change it.
  • Flexible Working Pattern: Upon returning to work, you may request a flexible working pattern. While employers are not obligated to grant this, they must consider it seriously.
  • Giving Notice for Returning to Work: If you plan to return to work earlier or later than originally planned, you must give your employer the agreed notice, typically eight weeks.

Understanding your rights and responsibilities ensures a smooth transition into and out of parental leave. It empowers you to make informed decisions and maintain a positive relationship with your employer. For employers, respecting and upholding these rights and entitlements is not just a legal obligation, but a cornerstone of a supportive and family-friendly workplace.

Preparing For An Employee Going On Parental Leave

When you’re preparing for maternity, paternity, or shared parental leave, creating a smooth transition plan is crucial for both employee and employer. This ensures that key job responsibilities are well-managed during the absence and assists in maintaining operational efficiency:

Detailing The Role in a Job Description

The manager or a designated colleague should work with the employee to outline the current job duties and responsibilities. This might involve revisiting the job description or even creating an updated outline of the role. A detailed understanding of the position will be invaluable in ensuring a seamless transition. Here, our library of job descriptions can be invaluable. Leverage a job description template to capture the intricacies of roles, or download job specs, such as our example Purchasing Clerk job description or sample Primary School Teacher job description.

Creating a Cover Plan

Next, work together to craft a job description for the person who will cover your role. It’s important to consider key responsibilities, the skills required for the role, and any performance expectations. This clarity will help employers find the right temporary replacement or redistribute tasks effectively among the team.

Training and Handover

Finally, arrange a handover period. This is when the employee has the opportunity to train their replacement or update team members on ongoing projects and responsibilities. A thorough handover is vital to ensure that job duties are continued without disruption, giving peace of mind while on maternity leave or paternity leave.

Remember, this transition plan is a collaborative effort designed to support both employer and employee during the leave. With all parties actively participating in this process, time away is as smooth and stress-free as possible for everyone involved. Getting ready to bring a parent back to the office? Read our guide – What Are Keeping In Touch Days Whilst On Maternity Leave?

Parental Leave And Pay FAQs

Next, we answer the questions of employers and employees on statutory parental leave and pay:


Absolutely! In the UK, embracing the joys of new parenthood is made easier with financial support. If you’re eligible, you can receive both Statutory Paternity Pay and Shared Parental Pay. It’s all about giving you the flexibility and support you need during this exciting new chapter in your life. 


Calculating Shared Parental Leave Pay is straightforward. In the UK, you typically receive either £172.48 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. This calculation ensures that taking time off to care for your newborn doesn’t have to be a financial burden, providing peace of mind during those precious early moments. 


Combining Shared Parental Leave with Enhanced Maternity Pay is like having the best of both worlds. If your employer offers Enhanced Maternity Pay, you can still opt into Shared Parental Leave later. This flexibility allows you to tailor your leave to your family’s needs, ensuring that you don’t miss out on any employer-specific benefits. 


In the realm of UK employment law, it’s not possible to be on Maternity Leave and Shared Parental Leave simultaneously. Maternity Leave must be ended for Shared Parental Leave to start. This structure is designed to provide maximum flexibility and support, enabling parents to make the best choices for their family’s unique situation. 

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