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Teachers - Shared Parental Leave and Holiday Pay

February 2020


Teachers get a rough deal when it comes to holiday and maternity leave. In this blog we will show how Shared Parental Leave and Pay could boost your take home pay by over £2500 during maternity leave.

Why teachers get a rough deal

“Normal” people (teachers aren’t normal, they are very, very, special) accrue holiday while they are on maternity leave. However, because teachers have to take their holiday at specific times of year, they can’t really accrue holiday in this way.

So, while teachers get long “holidays”, this not only doesn’t benefit them on maternity leave, they actually get a worse deal than everyone else.

Does that matter? – For a “Normal” person on statutory minimum 28 days holiday this is worth 11% of their salary. For a UK average salary of £28,000 accruing holiday on maternity leave is worth £3,000. Teachers miss out on this.

So how can teachers get a fairer deal?

Shared Parental Leave and Pay comes to the rescue

Shared parental leave and pay allow a mother to take some of her maternity leave and pay and turn it into shared parental leave and pay.

This shared parental leave and pay can be taken in lumps by either the father or the mother, but we are just going to concentrate on it all going to you, the mother, just like maternity leave.

There are some rules and details, but the basic idea is that because you can take leave in blocks rather than all at once, you can:

  • Start taking maternity leave when you have your baby as normal
  • When you get to the summer holiday, end your maternity leave and return to “work” (so you get paid your normal salary through the summer holidays)
  • Go back onto Shared Parental Leave when term starts again in September

Let’s look at a teacher on standard Burgundy Book terms and earning £28,000 per year to see what difference this makes:

Taking maternity leave for 52 weeks
  • Start maternity leave on 1st February 2020, return to work on 31st January 2021.

Total take home pay (from 1/1/2020 to 31/1/2021) : £11,055.
See what your Take Home Maternity Pay will be.

Using shared parental leave
  • Start maternity leave on 1st February 2020
  • End maternity leave on 17th July 2020, convert remaining leave to Shared Leave
  • Return to Work from 17th July to 31st August 2020
  • Take Shared Parental Leave and Pay from 1st September 2020 to 31st January 2021

Total take home pay (from 1/1/2020 to 31/1/2021) : £13,741

An extra £2,686!

A more detailed breakdown of this comparison is available here

You will also have 6 weeks for Shared Parental Leave left over which your partner could take. This can be taken any time from when you end maternity leave to 1 year after birth.

To those who think that this sounds like “playing the system” and not the right thing to do, let’s remember the £3000 of holiday that an equivalent non-teacher worker accrues on maternity leave. Our view would be this is actually just bringing teachers closer to what everyone else is already getting.

Am I eligible for Shared Parental Leave?

You can check using our maternity benefits eligibility checker.

How do I take Shared Parental Leave?

It is administratively a bit more complicated than maternity leave; you must give notice to your employer. You can find out more here.

Can my employer say no?

Taking shared parental leave is your statutory right, and is also covered in the Burgundy Book. Our understanding is that so long as you are requesting all your shared leave in a single block (as in the example above) your employer cannot refuse the timing of the leave. However, we would love to hear your real-world experiences.

If you take this concept further by for example returning to work for multiple holidays then your employer can refuse, so best to ask nicely.

Words of caution:

The example makes various assumptions and is designed to illustrate a typical example, your circumstances will be different and the extra income you get will be different. Particularly if

  • You have your baby very near the summer holidays
  • You are at a school that does not follow Burgundy Book terms

At the time of writing Shared Parental Pay is at the same rate as SMP.

You are “at work” during the summer holidays, and so your employer can make the same demands of you as normal during those weeks. We don’t think they should be changing your directed hours to be in school during the summer holidays just because you are on maternity leave the rest of the year, but we are not experts.

We are not experts in employment law, we would always encourage you to have a constructive conversation with your employer and reach an amicable arrangement. If you think they are being unreasonable then seek help from your union, the money advice service or maternity action

Check out our Teacher Maternity Pay Calculator which shows you what your pay will be based on taking your Maternity Leave in the conventional way.

Get in touch if you'd like us to make the calculator cope with the use of Shared Parental Leave and Pay.