Introduction to this document

Acknowledgement of discontinuous periods of SPL

Unlike a request for a single period of shared parental leave (SPL), you don’t have to agree to a request for discontinuous SPL. In this scenario, there’s a two-week discussion period during which you can either accept the employee’s request, propose alternative dates or reject it. Use our acknowledgement letter to set out the legal position upfront.

Three options

Where your employee’s request is for discontinuous SPL, the legislation provides that you and your employee have a two-week discussion period, starting on the date that they give you their period of leave notice, during which you can discuss and consider their request. During (and by the end of) this period, there are then three options open to you, which are at your discretion:

  1. You can consent to the employee’s requested pattern of discontinuous SPL.
  2. You can refuse the request as it stands but instead propose alternative dates to the employee for their periods of SPL.
  3. You can refuse the periods of SPL without proposing alternative dates.

So, your employee is only permitted to take a pattern of discontinuous SPL if you agree to it. Under the legislation, there’s also no requirement to give the employee’s request reasonable consideration and neither is there any limitation on your ability to refuse it. However, that said, you do need to avoid any allegations of unlawful discrimination so it’s best to have a good business reason for refusal.

Where Option 2 applies and you propose alternative dates to your employee for discontinuous SPL, they will in turn need to agree them - you can’t force alternative dates on them.

Acknowledgement letter

Our Acknowledgement of Discontinuous Periods of SPL Letter sets out the above statutory position and then invites the employee to a meeting to discuss their request. There’s actually no legal requirement to hold a formal meeting but for employee relations purposes you need to be seen to be considering their request. Plus, a meeting affords you the opportunity to run through why their requested pattern of discontinuous SPL might not be viable for the needs of the business and/or to discuss possible alternative dates.


If, by or before the end of the two-week period, you agree to the employee’s request or the employee agrees with the alternative dates that you have proposed, they are then entitled to take the discontinuous SPL as agreed.

No agreement

If, however, agreement cannot be reached within the two-week window and so you refuse the employee’s request, they are entitled to take the total amount of SPL requested as a continuous block - this is essentially the default position.