Here at the Co-op we know that having a baby, adopting a new child or having a baby through surrogacy, is an important and exciting time and we want to support you.

Shared Parental Leave gives parents flexibility to share the care of their child in the first year. There are some important things that you need to know and do to help us make all the arrangements for your Shared Parental Leave and pay – so talk to your manager if you have any questions or concerns or you can contact HR Services.

We acknowledge the importance of using inclusive language and where possible we have used ‘gender neutral language’ to ensure inclusivity for our LGBTQ+ parents. However, for simplicity and in line with legislation, the terms ‘maternity’ and ‘paternity’ will still be used in our forms and systems, including payroll, so please note that where used, ‘maternity’ includes all pregnant parents and ‘paternity’ includes all non-pregnant parents.

Crucial bits

Qualifying for Shared Parental Leave

If you qualify and choose to opt in to Shared Parental Leave, you or your partner/baby’s pregnant parent will need to end your/their Maternity/Pregnant Parent Leave or Adoption Leave.

Please note the pregnant parent has to take at least two weeks’ Maternity/Pregnant Parent Leave immediately after the baby is born. If adopting, the Primary Adopter has to take two weeks’ Adoption Leave immediately following the child’s placement (or if adopting through fostering to adopt/concurrent planning, immediately following the adoption placement order being granted, if you/your partner delayed starting Adoption Leave until then). You can then share the remaining 50 weeks’ leave and 37 weeks’ pay between you.

You need to take all Shared Parental Leave by your child’s first birthday or within 52 weeks of your child being placed with you for adoption (or if adopting through fostering to adopt/concurrent planning, within 52 weeks of the adoption placement order being granted, if you/your partner delayed starting Adoption Leave until then).

You can take Shared Parental Leave if you’ve already taken Paternity/Non-Pregnant Parent Leave, but once you’ve started taking Shared Parental Leave you won’t then be able to take Paternity/Non-Pregnant Parent Leave.

To qualify for Shared Parental Leave you must:

  • have worked for the Co-op for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before your baby’s due, or the week you’re told that you’ve been matched with a child for adoption/notified of a fostering to adopt/concurrent planning placement, and
  • be employed by the Co-op in the week before you take your Shared Parental Leave

Also, your baby’s birth parent/partner must:

  • have been employed for 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks (not necessarily continuously) before the week your baby’s due to be born, or the week you’re told that you’ve been matched with a child for adoption/notified of a fostering to adopt/concurrent planning placement, and:
  • have earned at least £30 a week on average during any 13 of those weeks (not necessarily continuously)

If your partner hasn’t been working or is self-employed they won’t be entitled to take Shared Parental Leave. They might still meet the qualifying criteria to let you take it though.

If you’ve got more than one job at Co-op, we’ll work out whether you qualify based on the earliest start date across your roles.

If you’re not sure if you qualify you can use the government online calculator to check www.gov.uk/pay-leave-for-parents.

Taking Shared Parental Leave

If you want to take Shared Parental Leave, here are the steps you’ll need to follow:

Ending Maternity/Pregnant Parent Leave or Adoption Leave

If you’re the birth parent or the Primary Adopter of the child, you’ll need to tell us that you want to end your Maternity/Pregnant Parent Leave or Adoption Leave early. You can do this by completing either SPL Form 1A - Maternity Curtailment and Entitlement to Shared Parental Leave or SPL Form 1C - Adoption Curtailment and Entitlement to Shared Parental Leave and send it to HR Services.

You must give us at least eight weeks’ notice, but you can tell us earlier than this if you like.

Just so you’re aware, once you’ve ended your Maternity/Pregnant Parent Leave or Adoption Leave you can’t change your mind and restart it, other than in exceptional circumstances.

If you want, you can give us notice to end your Maternity/Pregnant Parent Leave or Adoption Leave on a specified future date. You can tell us that you’re entitled to and intend to take Shared Parental Leave at the same time (see below). This means your partner can start taking Shared Parental Leave while you’re still on Maternity /Pregnant Parent Leave or Adoption Leave.

If your baby’s birth mother or partner has taken Maternity/Pregnant Parent Leave or Adoption Leave and you want to opt-in to Shared Parental Leave, they’ll need to give their employer notice to end their leave. They’ll then need to make a declaration to us that they’ve done that, before you can tell us that you’re entitled and intend to take Shared Parental Leave.

Completing an SPL1 form

To opt-in to Shared Parental Leave, you need to tell your manager that you’re entitled to Shared Parental Leave and that you intend to take this leave. If you have more than one job with the Co-op, you should tell each of your managers about your intention to take Shared Parental Leave, but the process will usually be handled by your primary manager in your primary role. Your primary manager should keep your other managers informed.

There are different versions of this form, so make sure you use the right one for your circumstances. If you’ve not given us the information we need, you might not be able to take Shared Parental Leave when you want. Speak to your manager or contact HR Services on 0330 606 1001 if you’re not sure which is the right form for you.

The form has a section that your partner needs to fill in to confirm that they’re eligible to take Shared Parental Leave and are happy to share the leave with you. If your partner doesn’t do this, we won’t be able to process your form.

Completing an SPL2 form

Next, you need to request leave by completing a SPL2 Form and giving it to your manager. Make sure you tick the box to say that this is your first request for leave. You must submit this form at least eight weeks before the date of the first block of Shared Parental Leave that you want to take.

You can ask to take Shared Parental Leave as one single continuous block of leave. As long as you’ve given your manager eight weeks’ notice, this’ll be approved.

You can also ask to take Shared Parental Leave as more than one discontinuous block of leave – for example, take four weeks leave then return to work for four weeks and then take another four weeks leave. Your manager will need to think about how this might impact the business and may talk to you about it. They’ll let you know whether or not they’ve approved your request.

If they can’t approve it, you’ll have the option to withdraw your request. If you want to do this it needs to be within 15 days of getting their decision. If you don’t do it within this time, you’ll just be given the total amount of leave you’ve asked for in one block. If you then tell your manager within 19 days of getting their original decision when you want this single period of Shared Parental Leave to start, you can start it when you want. This is as long as it’s not earlier than eight weeks after the date you made your original request. If you’ve not given your manager a start date within 19 days, your leave will just start on the date of the first period of leave that you asked for.

If you have more than one Co-op job, the start and end dates of each block of Shared Parental Leave must be the same across all of your roles.

Once HR Services have received your approved request, they’ll send you a letter confirming the details of your leave and pay. We may ask you to show us relevant official documentation such as your baby’s birth certificate/ matching certificate or notification of adoption placement but you’ll only need to send this in if you’re asked.

Submitting further requests for leave

You can submit up to three separate requests for blocks of Shared Parental Leave. After this you can’t make any further requests or change your Shared Parental Leave. Any discontinuous leave requests that haven’t been approved and you’ve withdrawn won’t count towards these three requests.

If you want to make a further request for Shared Parental Leave, complete another SPL2 Form and give it to your manager. You should tick the box to say whether it’s your second or third request for leave.

Changing your approved leave

Once we’ve agreed your request for Shared Parental Leave, it becomes binding. You can only change your leave dates by making another request, which will count towards your three leave requests. You’ll need to complete SPL2 Form again and tick the box to say that it’s a change to a previous leave request.

If you want to change your agreed leave you must give your manager at least eight weeks’ notice. This includes if you want to cancel your leave or return to work earlier than originally agreed. If you don’t give eight weeks’ notice, you might not be able to make the change.

Shared Parental Leave Pay

To qualify for Statutory Shared Parental Leave Pay (SSPLP), you and your partner both need to meet the eligibility criteria for Shared Parental Leave detailed above.

You also need to have earned at least £120 a week in the eight weeks before the 15th week before your baby’s due, or the week you’re notified of your adoption placement.

If you have more than one job with the Co-op, we’ll calculate your entitlement to SSPLP based on your combined earnings across your roles.

If you qualify for SSPLP you’ll still be paid in the normal way for the period that you’re entitled to. If you don’t qualify, you may not get a payslip during your leave.

Things to think about

Pensions

If you’re a member of a Co-op pension scheme then you’ll continue to be a member during your Shared Parental Leave. While you’re getting SSPLP your pension contributions will be based on the actual pay you receive each period, but the Co-op’s contributions will be based on your normal full pay. During any unpaid periods of Shared Parental Leave, all pension contributions will stop. Visit https://coop.pacepensions.co.uk or contact the Pensions Department for more information.

Other benefits

If you get any other benefits that you contribute to through a salary sacrifice arrangement, like childcare vouchers or a season ticket loan, contact HR Services to find out how Shared Parental Leave may affect these.

If you get any other contractual non-salary benefits, such as a car or medical insurance, these will continue throughout your Shared Parental Leave.

Holidays

Your holiday entitlement will continue to accrue while you’re on Shared Parental Leave. If your bank holidays aren’t already included in your holiday entitlement, you’ll also get days in lieu of any bank holidays which fall during your leave. Talk to your manager before you start your Shared Parental Leave about taking your holidays either before or at the end of your leave and agree dates. If you return to work too close to the end of the holiday year to take all your holidays, speak to your manager about carrying forward any remaining days.

Keeping in touch

It’s good to stay in touch with your colleagues and your manager during your Shared Parental Leave. We’ll try to keep you updated about any important changes or other things you need to know while you’re away from work. Agree with your manager the best way of keeping in touch.

You can have up to 20 ‘Shared Parental Leave in Touch’ (SPLIT) days during your Shared Parental Leave, which let you work without losing your entitlement to SSPLP. SPLIT days need to be agreed with your manager first and can be used for anything that would normally be part of your job, including training courses and announcements. You can take them at any point during your Shared Parental Leave. You don’t have to arrange any SPLIT days, and we’ll never insist that you take a SPLIT day.

On a SPLIT day you’ll get paid your full contractual rate of pay for the hours you work. If you’re receiving SSPLP, your pay will be ‘topped up’ to your normal hourly rate. This means that payment for a SPLIT day won’t ever be more than a normal day’s pay. Just so you’re aware, even if you don’t work a full day, this will still count as one of your 20 SPLIT days.

SPLIT days are in addition to any KIT days you may have taken during Maternity/Pregnant Parent Leave or Adoption Leave.

Returning to work after Shared Parental Leave

Unless there’s a business reorganisation – in which case we’d consult with you about what this means for you – you’ll usually be able to come back to the same role and with the same terms and conditions of employment that you had before your Shared Parental Leave.

If you need further support

The Shared Parental Leave Process contains a step-by-step guide to Shared Parental Leave so everyone’s clear about the steps that need to be followed when a colleague wants to take Shared Parental Leave.

If you have any questions about Shared Parental Leave, please speak to your manager or HR Services. If managers need advice they can contact HR Services.

We know that it can be challenging to balance having a new child with your work. Flexible working might help - you can find our Flexible Working Policy on this site.

Having a child can mean big changes in your personal life and you may need extra support and guidance in adapting to these. Remember we have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) who can provide colleagues with support. You can contact the EAP on 0800 069 8854. It’s independent and totally confidential. And there’s no charge for Co-op colleagues.