Can an employee take shared parental leave if his or her partner is self-employed?

Yes, an employee can be eligible to take shared parental leave if his or her partner is self-employed, as long as the partner meets the relevant requirements relating to employment and earnings.

The employee's partner must have:

  • been engaged in employment either as an employed or self-employed earner for any part of the week in at least 26 of the 66 weeks immediately before the expected week of birth (or the week of notification of matching for adoption); and
  • average weekly earnings of at least £30 in any 13 of those 66 weeks.

For example, if the mother of a child is self-employed and eligible for maternity allowance (the test for entitlement to maternity allowance is the same as the employment and earnings test above for shared parental leave), the father, or the mother's partner, can take shared parental leave, provided that he or she meets the eligibility requirements. The mother would have to curtail her entitlement to maternity allowance. The mother would not be entitled to take shared parental leave in her own right if she is not an employee.

Similarly, if the father of a child, or the mother's partner, is self-employed and meets the employment and earnings test, the mother can take shared parental leave provided that she meets the eligibility requirements. While the mother will not be able to share the leave with her partner if he or she is not an employee, the mother may choose to curtail her maternity leave and take shared parental leave instead, so that she can take her leave in a more flexible way, ie in more than one block.