Shared Parental Leave - One Year On - Where Are We Now?
It has been a year since Shared Parental Leave was introduced, and My Family Care have teamed up with the Women's Business Council to find out the take-up, issues and opinions of the last 12 months
- Research results
- Comment from Ben Black
- Comment from Emer Timmons
- Deloitte Case Study
- Citi Case Study
Shared Parental Leave - one year on
Tuesday 5th April marks the one year anniversary of the launch of Shared Parental Leave (SPL). The revolutionary policy that allows couples to share leave surrounding the arrival of a new addition to their family helps women get back into the workplace quicker, and gives men the opportunity to care full time for their new baby or adopted child in the crucial first year.
Find out exactly what employers and employees think about Shared Parental Leave, what take-up has been like, and the major changes over the past year. Download full research results
For our previous findings, please see Shared Parental Leave: Has it Delieverd?
Our research findings
We partnered with the Women's Business Council to discover what has happened with SPL over the last year. We found that just 1% of men (that is, all men, not just eligible men, based on our HR respondents' feedback on take up percentage) have so far taken up the opportunity to share their partner's parental leave while 55% of women say they wouldn't want to share their maternity leave.
The combined survey of over 1,000 parents and 200 businesses (HR Directors) found that taking up SPL was very much dependent on a person's individual circumstances, particularly on their financial situation and the paternity pay on offer from their employer.
80% consider finance a big issue
The main reasons why men have chosen not to take up SPL are financial affordability, lack of awareness, and unwillingness from women to share their maternity leave. 80% of both men and women agreed that a decision to share leave would be dependent on their finances and their employer's enhancement of SPL.
But, while take up is still low, the research found that men are interested in taking SPL in the future, with almost two thirds (63%) of men who already have young children, and are considering having more, saying it was likely they would choose to take SPL.
"Fantastic step, but slow take-up"
Our very own Ben Black had this to say about our recent findings:
Cultural consistency and potential cost
Of the 200 employers asked, the majority said that they enhanced both maternity (77%) and paternity (65%) pay. The core reasons were to be consistent with their culture of fairness and equality, and to increase retention and engagement of both men and women.
Those companies who haven't enhanced SPL did so because of the potential costs involved primarily, followed by their view that they'd be better off 'waiting and seeing' if the opportunity proved popular.
"A long way to go"
Emer Timmons, Chair of the 'Men as Change Agents' working group at the Women's Business Council said of the findings:
"One year on, we can see that some fathers have embraced the opportunity to spend time with their young families but that there is still a long way to go for others.
"Increasing flexibility in the workplace was a key recommendation of the Women's Business Council, designed to give women more control over career choices, and I am delighted to see that My Family Care is working with enlightened organisations to kick-start the culture change that is needed to give fathers the confidence to take time off for childcare. Increased flexibility is good for women, good for families, good for business and ultimately the economy, so it's a win-win situation all round."
Over half of mothers don't want to share mat leave
While Shared Parental Leave was introduced, in part, to help women get back into the workplace, just over half (55%) of mothers said they wouldn't want to share their maternity leave with their partners. But 48% of women said they wanted to have a shorter time off for career purposes.
There was also the general consensus that a man taking SPL could negatively impact on his career with 50% of men saying this and 57% of women. Only 40% of individuals say that SPL is encouraged by their employer.
Deloitte case study
However, one father who jumped at the chance to take Shared Parental Leave in July was Tom Picton-Turbervill who is a Senior Manager in Tax at Deloitte. His wife gave birth to baby Henry in June. He took the initial two weeks paternity leave when he was born and then four weeks SPL, together with his wife, during August.
His main aim for taking leave was to support his wife and build up a relationship with his son, Henry, who is now nine months old.
"My colleagues at work were really supportive of me taking the time off and a common reaction was 'I wish this was around when I had my kids'. The process was easy and I even received a babygro from the firm.
"I would highly recommend taking shared parental leave as there is no way to get this time again. Plan ahead so you can work with the team to hand over your work and make sure you enjoy every moment."
The future of SPL
So what does the future hold for Shared Parental Leave? 48% of businesses are optimistic, believing it will be normalised over time, while 45% think it will remain a minority choice. 87% of men said that they would like to take longer leave so as to be fully involved in parenting their child.
Citi case study
One company that has been 'bowled over' by the number of employees consider SPL is Citi. Xanic Jones, EMEA Diversity & Inclusion says:
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