Can contractors benefit from SPL shakeup?

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The government’s flagship Shared Parental Leave (SPL) came into force this week, offering mothers and fathers an equal opportunity to look after their newborn children.

SPL has caused an element of confusion among contractors, with many seemingly unsure whether they can take advantage of the scheme through their umbrella company.

Our senior HR advisor, Kerry Harvey, told news site Contractor Calculator that freelancers employed by compliant umbrella providers should be able to apply for SPL – provided they meet the eligibility requirements. This is because they are given the same employment rights afforded to permanent workers.

To benefit, a contractor has to be in continuous employment for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week that the baby is due. They must also still be in work during the week before SPL is due to begin.

In addition, the individual should be employed by the same service provider when they take SPL – something that could see many contractors fail the eligibility criteria. If this occurs, there are alternative circumstances that may be considered.

Kerry said: “If a contractor’s partner qualifies for SPL, has been working for at least 26 weeks (in the 66 weeks leading up to the baby’s expected due date), and earns an average of £30 per month, they will pass the ‘employment and earnings’ test and could still be eligible.”

To claim SPL, a contractor should complete a form and request the time off. If they subsequently change their mind, they must submit a ‘variation of leave period notice’. They are able to do this up to three times, provided they discuss the matter with their employer.

For more information about SPL eligibility, please call 0800 458 0818 or email