Recent research has shown that new fathers are shying away from using legislation that allows them to share leave with their partners.
The Shared Parental Leave (SPL) rules came into force on 5 April 2015. You may remember that in a previous article on SPL we outlined the key features of the provisions. To give you a brief overview, SPL was introduced to promote flexibility for parents whilst caring for their children during the twelve months after birth.
It enables parents to split 52 weeks’ leave whilst receiving payment for 39 of those weeks. This is separate from the two weeks paternity leave that is available to all new fathers, and so can also be taken alongside SPL.
Although considered to be a wonderful step towards gender equality, allowing an efficient work-life balance for both genders, research conducted by My Family Care of 200 employers, found that four out of 10 employers have not seen a single male employee take up the right to SPL.
It found that fewer than 10% reported more than a 1% of its workforce take up the right, whilst a further 25% of the employers were not able to provide a figure.
Out of the total number of employees surveyed it was clear that finances and the impact upon career progression were decisive factors influencing male take up of SPL, with 80% saying deciding to take up SPL would be dependent on finances, and 50% saying that taking leave would likely be looked on negatively at work.
Shockingly, only 40% of individuals said that SPL was encouraged by their employer which really does highlight the teething problems SPL is experiencing, particularly given the engrained gender identities and stigmas.
Further figures published by the Government have suggested that out of the 285,000 eligible working fathers, only 2%-8% would take SPL. This is in stark contrast to fathers in Norway and Sweden where for 9 out of 10 of them 80-100% of their full earnings are replaced whilst opting for SPL.
Research conducted by the TUC, has led to its general secretary Frances O’Grady suggesting that new provisions for SPL, which are separate from men’s partners, need to be introduced in order to get more men to take it out.
This derives from research which shows that two in five men are ineligible for SPL due to their partners not meeting certain conditions. Her suggestion is that independent parental leave rules should be enforced and statutory pay should be increased, so they are more encouraged to get involved with childcare.
The Department for Business Innovation and Skills agrees with TUC to an extent by noting that takeup is likely to be higher in organisations where pay is above the statutory minimum. It will evaluate the policy by 2018.
What do you think is the answer to make fathers more inclined to take up SPL?
Shared Parental Leave Employment Law
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