Only one in 10 fathers have taken Shared Parental Leave (SPL) since its introduction in 2015.
A new survey by communications company PowWowNow of 1,000 UK dads found that take-up has been low since SPL was introduced four years ago, even though 85% wish they had taken more time off to look after their child.
This research is backed up by HMRC figures indicating that uptake of Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) amongst eligible couples was just 3.5% in 2018.
Work pressure was cited as the biggest factor (79%) that fathers felt prevented them from spending time with their new-born.
Among those fathers who did not take SPL, a third said they were not able to afford it, with one in five saying they did not know it was an option. Further, 19% said they didn’t want to take leave away from their partner.
Why encourage Shared Parental Leave?
Despite few men taking significant time off following the birth of their child, the majority (82%) of fathers said they would like to be able to spend more time caring for their children as they grow up.
SPL improves employees’ work-life balance. Of those fathers that did take either SPL or Paternity Leave, nine out of 10 reported it had a positive effect on their family life.
SPL also encourages equality in the workplace. Many women are held back from promotion and other opportunities due to them taking time out from work to have children.
In turn, this will help reduce any gender pay gap within the organisation and boost corporate identity.
SPL key facts
The Children and Families Act 2014 and The Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014 introduced a statutory right to Shared Parental Leave. Key features are:
A maximum of 50 weeks’ leave may be taken during the 12 months following childbirth.
Any period of maternity leave taken by the mother will be deducted from the period of 52 weeks SPL. Parents can choose how they spilt up the remaining leave between them.
The minimum period of SPL is one week.
Leave must be taken in multiples of complete weeks. It may be taken as one continuous period, or as discontinuous periods.
A continuous period of SPL cannot be refused, but a discontinuous period of SPL can.
Paid paternity leave of two weeks will continue to be available to fathers/or the mother’s or adopter’s partner. However, additional paternity is replaced by SPL.
If one or both parents wish to take SPL they must provide written notice to their own employer at least eight weeks before the start of the first period of SPL.
Adopters will have the same rights as other parents to SPL.
There is no need for employers to contact one another to make checks on the eligibility criteria or declarations.
Employees who have taken less than 26 weeks’ SPL have the right to return to the same job. Employees who have taken more than 26 weeks’ SPL have the right to return to the same job, or a similar job if it is not reasonably practical to return to the same position.
SPL is paid at the statutory amount as set by the Government and is paid up to 37 weeks.