Shared Parental Leave

Just 1% of men have opted to take Shared Parental Leave (“SPL”) in the 12 months since the government introduced it – according to research by My Family Care and the Women’s Business Council.

The survey discovered that the main reasons for the lack of men taking up the offer were financial, a lack of awareness and the unwillingness of women to share maternity leave.

In essence, SPL means a couple carving up the leave between the couple. The mother has to take her two weeks compulsory maternity leave (four weeks if she works in a factory) and the spouse, partner or civil partner of the mother is entitled to two weeks ordinary paternity leave but for the remaining 50 weeks the mother is able to end their maternity leave, or commit to ending it at a future date, and share the untaken leave with the other parent. Shared Parental Pay is available, if the mother returns to work, for up to 37 weeks.

It is a complex system to manage; leave can stop and start at anytime, employees need to pass two different tests to initially qualify for SPL and there are different rules around booking and revoking booking. Often, partly due to the complexities involved, employers do not have clear policies on shared parental leave.

Our Family Friendly Rights expert, Crystal Bolton believes that the government should step in and make the legislation and systems much less complicated, “We know that the Government said that they would look at it again and potentially revise it in 2018, but as this research shows, parents aren’t making the most of the scheme, so we are calling for them to give it more of a priority.”

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