Baby steps for Shared Parental Leave

A survey on Shared Parental Leave by Xpert HR suggests that there has been a limited uptake since its introduction a year ago. The majority of those surveyed disagreed that more fathers had been encouraged to take shared leave and, half of those who reported receiving a flexible working request had received only one.

The survey drew out some interesting statistics. The employers surveyed were twice as likely to offer enhanced maternity pay as enhanced shared parental pay. However, where employers did offer enhanced pay, their employees were twice as likely to take it.

The employers surveyed suggested that low uptake shared parental leave is partly due to parents’ financial worries. Although shared parental leave offers both parents the opportunity to take leave to care for their child at the same time it can mean that, depending on the financial packages available, neither parent has any income for a considerable period of time. This will not make it a viable option for many.

The proposals for shared grand parental leave have now been shelved until after the referendum but it will be interesting to see whether this helps increase the uptake of shared parental leave. After all, it allows working parents to access the time of a demographic who may still be working but are often more financially secure and at a time in their careers where they may be happier to take some time off.

Rolleen McDonnell is a solicitor at leading senior executive employment law firm BDBF.