In November last year our son was born (he’s awesome).

We used Shared Parental Leave (SPL) to do parental leave together for the first 7 months after he was born. Looking back, SPL wasn’t very complicated to set up, but it took quite a bit of time to wrap my head around the rules, forms and procedures.

This is a write up of how we approached it, in case it’s useful to others (probably if you work in the Cabinet Office).

Just note that I’m not an expert on these issues, and might be misremembering things. For the actual facts, read the guide about Shared Parental Leave on GOV.UK. There’s also a guide for Civil Servants on having a baby.


Our plan for the first 7 months was fairly simple: do the first month after the birth together, then my partner 3 months solo, then me 3 months solo.

This first month didn’t affect SPL. The Cabinet Office gives new dads 12 of paternity leave. I took 3 days of annual leave, and 5 unpaid days.

Shared Parental Leave

This is how I explain it to people: mothers usually get 52 weeks of maternity leave. If you want, you can convert a part of this into Shared Parental Leave, which you can use to take time off, either separately or together.

However, in our case only I was eligible for SPL because my partner switched jobs while being pregnant. This also meant that she only had a right to Maternity Allowance (£148.68 per week), not Statutory Maternity Pay.

The way SPL works in the Cabinet Office, is that the dad can take the leave under the same conditions as the mother: the first 6 months are at full pay, the next 3 months are paid at statutory pay (less) and the last 3 months are unpaid.

What this would have meant for us, is that Nina would get 4 months Maternity Allowance, and I’d get 2 months full pay (filling up the 6 months) and 1 month of statutory pay.

Because the Maternity Allowance (£148.68 per week) is a lot lower than full pay we stopped the Maternity Allowance after 3 months. This meant all of my 3 months fell within the full pay period at the Cabinet Office. You can stop the Maternity Allowance by calling up DWP.

Of course, this whole thing would’ve gone way too smoothly if there hadn’t been some government weirdness. When we called DWP, the customer service disagreed with our plan, and told us it wasn’t necessary to stop the allowance. We decided to go against their advice because if we didn’t and they were wrong, we would’ve had to repay a months salary.

If you want to know more, feel free to drop me an email.

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