Share and share alike
According to news reports, only 1 % of fathers have taken up the opportunity to share parental leave a year after the option was introduced according to a survey of employers and parents. However, the survey actually found that 1% of all men, rather than new fathers had taken up the option. Another source has made a rough estimate that among all men aged 15 or over, only around 4-5% had babies in the last year. Using this figure it is possible that there has been around 20-25% uptake of Shared Parental Leave. Within the original research itself, a second survey carried out with individuals, including a number of recent fathers, suggested that the uptake rates could be around 30%.
The policy allows new parents to split up to 52 weeks of shared parental leave between them as well as up to 39 weeks of statutory shared parental pay.
The survey, of more than 1,000 parents and 200 businesses by My Family Care, also found that 55 % of women would not want to share their leave. Taking up shared parental leave (SPL) was dependent on a person's individual financial situation and the paternity pay on offer from their employer.
The research found that although take-up had been low, almost two thirds (63 per cent) of men who already have young children, and are considering having more, saying it was likely they would choose to take SPL.
When the policy was introduced, the Government estimated that around 285,000 couples would be eligible for SPL and that the take-up would be between 2 % and 8 %, with take-up likely to be higher in organisations that offer pay above the statutory minimum. The policy will be evaluated by the government by 2018.
Sadly, this kind of reporting probably makes it harder for the sharing of Parental Leave to become culturally acceptable, and offer ammunition to those who oppose it.
If you would like help with writing or administering a Shared Parental Leave Policy, please contact Charlton Associates
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Qualitative Research findings
Hazel Lonsdale, Chief Executive, Third Sector Services