Shared Parental Leave – one year on

baby-17351_1920Shared Parental Leave (SPL) came into force one year ago today on 5 April 2015. The idea of SPL is to allow working parents to share the responsibility of taking care of their newborn or newly adopted child; they can share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay within the first year of their child’s life or adoption.

But the uptake of SPL has so far been extremely low, so why is this? A survey of over 600 employees by TotalJobs, one of the UK’s leading job boards, has revealed that:

  • 85% of employees think that families cannot afford SPL.
  • 81% fear the impact of taking SPL on their careers.
  • 80% believe that SPL will strengthen the role of fathers in the family.
  • 74% have received no guidance on SPL from their HR departments.
  • 67% of women are not clear about or don’t know what SPL is.

Despite the low uptake of the policy, 75% of the people who participated in the survey think that SPL will reduce gender stereotypes about parenthood and 66% believe it will decrease inequality in the workplace, with more men taking time off and women returning to work more quickly. This is also relevant to the gender pay gap, as women reported earning less than their male partners, making it more economically viable for them to stay at home.

Most people (80%) who responded to the survey agreed that SPL will strengthen the role of fathers in the family, by giving them the opportunity to spend time bonding with their children as early as possible. The implementation of Grandparental Leave was also viewed positively, although 45% of respondents thought it would be difficult to organise.

Recent research has revealed the shocking scale of maternity and pregnancy discrimination, and it is clear that discrimination is a significant concern when considering SPL. 81% of respondents to the survey indicated that they feared the impact on their careers if they took SPL. 64% said they feared discrimination at work, and 41% stated that their colleagues’ and peers’ perceptions of them are among the main reasons for not taking SPL.

The full survey report makes for interesting reading and there is also a useful infographic.

If you need advice on any aspect of Shared Parental Leave, please contact Helen Kay on or .

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