Craig Davidge 14/06/2017

As one of my colleagues becomes a father for the first time, I’ve been reflecting on a Government policy that was launched with much fanfare but little take up.

Shared Parental Leave

Introduced just over two years ago, SPL allows parents the right to split up to 52 weeks a year of shared leave between them as well as up to 39 weeks of statutory shared pay.  But do you know anyone who has taken up shared parental leave?  I don’t.  Why?  Research from the organisation, Working Families shows what many of us will see as obvious; the barrier to most fathers taking it up, even if they are aware of it in the first place, is that they can’t afford to.  If you are the major breadwinner, then it doesn’t make financial sense.  The then government said it expected a low take up of 2-8%, but research has suggested the reality is around 1%.  Working Families is calling for the government to consider equalising statutory maternity pay and shared parental pay to prevent SPL being seen as a ‘second class option’ dependent on their partners and encourage more fathers to use it.   Employers going beyond the minimum pay for SPL would also make it a more realistic option.

Employer Of Choice

As the UK continues to enjoy near full employment, an employer’s EVP – employee value proposition – is becoming ever more significant when it comes to employees making their choices.  A voluntary flexible approach to parental pay and leave is another card on the table and singles you out as an employer that cares about a father spending time with his children in their first few weeks and months.

Time Is Precious

People talk about motherhood penalties when it comes to not being able to return to work because of lack of flexibility or because it isn’t financially viable.  Let’s not create a fatherhood penalty too.

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