Parents Unaware of Shared Parental Leave Changes and Reluctant to Take-Up Government's Offer

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New research has revealed that many parents across the UK are totally unaware of and confused by new legislation being introduced in April next year enabling mothers and fathers to share parental leave.

  • 65% of parents are unaware of new changes to share leave
  • 84% of parents would not take up the offer of Shared Parental Leave
  • 15% of employers have a clear idea of how they will implement new provision for their staff

Parents surveyed

In a survey of 1,000 parents for Good Care Guide, two thirds (65%) of parents said they were unaware of the changes being introduced in 2015.

Of those that did know about the Shared Parental Leave (SPL) changes, many were confused about the implications. Nearly half of parents (43%) were under the misconception that parents will have equal rights, when in reality it will be up to the mother or primary adopter to sign off.

41% were correct in thinking that SPL means that parents will be able to split Parental Leave equally between them while one in ten thought that parents will be able to access the same levels of parental leave pay, when in reality it will depend on what each company will offer.

Will anything change?

84% of parents have said that the new SPL legislation will not (or would not have for parents of children over the age of one) make any difference to how they take leave after their baby is or was born.

Despite this, 65% of parents said that they would jump at the chance to have two to five years off work in order to raise their family if it was an option offered by employers.

Educating parents-to-be

Jennifer Liston-Smith, Director of Coaching & Consultancy at My Family Care:

"Our research shows that the majority of parents are very unsure about the Shared Parental Leave changes, with a large chunk of people not even knowing about them altogether. This highlights a need to educate parents-to-be about their options - choices that they have never had to quite this degree in the past, enabling women to spend more time at work while their partner takes on the childcare role."

Concern from employers

This research comes just weeks after a survey from My Family Care and Hogan Lovells, revealed that a mere 15 per cent of employers had a clear idea of how they will implement the new provision for their staff who are parents.

It found that the biggest concern for employers is around the amount of internal administrative changes the legislation will create, while companies also revealed anxieties over managing resources during shorter, potentially more flexible periods of leave and communicating the changes to staff.

Ben Black, MD at My Family Care:

"What stands out most for us is the sharp divide in terms of thinking and planning. The survey tells the story of a number of companies (about 25-30% of respondents) who are embracing the opportunity the new legislation brings to enhance their family-friendly position. There's also a large majority who haven't yet got to grips with many of the issues and/or will not be actively promoting or enhancing Shared Parental Leave Pay (SPL)."

"Ultimately what companies do will depend on whether they actually want employees to take it up and how it fits with their strategic goals. There is certainly opportunity for forward looking companies to use SPL for culture change and it certainly has currency when it comes to the employer brand."

SPL Resource Pack for HR

To help businesses confused about the Shared Parental Leave changes, My Family Care, with the support of Hogan Lovells, have created a downloadable HR Resource Pack, providing information and advice to HR departments with questions over what the changes mean to them.

The pack includes:

  • Advice on how companies can get to grips with SPL
  • Bringing SPL to life - a case study with model answers
  • Thoughts from industry experts on the implications of SPL for business and gender equality
  • Access to a Shared Parental Leave Webinar for HR and Diversity professionals.

Newsletter Sign Up

Regular work+family updates for
HR and diversity professionals.