The employee must give written notice to book a period of SPL, which specifies the start and end dates of the SPL. This notice must be given at least eight weeks before the proposed start date for SPL.
Leave can be requested as one continuous block of leave or in discontinuous blocks (ie split into shorter, discontinuous periods, with periods to return to work in between).
Up to a maximum of three notices (inclusive of changes) to book leave can be made by each parent individually (inclusive of the first notice to book a period of SPL). This means that parents can request or vary blocks of leave on three separate occasions, but within the first year of the child being born. Where discontinuous leave in multiple blocks is requested, ie where an employee wishes to take separate blocks of leave, but with periods to return to work in between, this should be done in one single notice. Additional changes, ie changes beyond the three permitted notices, may be considered in exceptional circumstances. The employee will need to discuss these proposals with their Departmental Administrator (or equivalent) and any changes to the agreed patterns of leave may only take place where mutual agreement by the department and the employee has been achieved.
Where employees intend to book leave in discontinuous blocks, they should discuss this with their department before submitting their notice to book any such leave. Early discussions about leave arrangements are advantageous to both the employee and the department, as it means that appropriate and timely procedures can be followed. It also allows more time for the employee and the department to agree the way in which the shared leave can be taken, and any cover that is required to be considered and arranged.
The notice to book leave is binding, unless it is later ascertained that one or both of the parents do not qualify for SPL. However, if the mother gives her notice before her baby is born, she has the right to request to change her leave arrangements up to six weeks after childbirth. Employees should tell their department of the child’s date of birth as soon as it is reasonably possible following the birth, and in all cases before the first period of SPL begins.