Family life has evolved over the years, with dads having more of a ‘hands on’ approach when it comes to raising a family and an increasing number of mothers becoming the family ‘breadwinners’. Understandably, dads don’t want to miss the early stages of bringing up their children, and many use benefits such as flexible working to help manage this.
Shared Parental Leave (SPL) was introduced by the government in April 2015 to replace Additional Paternity Leave, and entitles both parents to share statutory leave and pay with their partner on the birth of their child*. Although the change in legislation has a lot of potential to be useful for modern families, the uptake of the benefit has remained low so far.
A recent survey of more than 1,000 male employees showed that whilst the vast majority (87%) would like to share parental leave with their partner, most are reluctant to ask their employer¹ due to concerns that it might negatively affect their career prospects. However, if we are to achieve true equality in the workplace, employers need to encourage a healthy work-life balance for both parents, which challenges the traditional gender stereotypes.
Iain McMath, CEO of Sodexo Benefits and Rewards UK comments, “Shared Parental Leave is helping many UK families strike a successful work-life balance, allowing mothers to return to work more quickly. Whilst it’s great to see that 87% of fathers are keen to utilise this benefit, it’s concerning that so many working dads are deterred due to feeling their career prospects will be compromised by doing so.
It will undoubtedly take time before we see a dramatic change in the current culture, but it is imperative that companies drive awareness by providing adequate support and guidance on Shared Parental Leave. Only when companies instil a positive workplace culture without concerns over perceived discrimination, will fathers feel assured to take the leave they are entitled to, without fears over career progression or job security.”
Does shared parental leave affect career progression? Read more >
* SPL has replaced Additional Paternity Leave which used to allow an eligible employee to care for their child after the mother had returned to work for a period of 2- 26 weeks, starting 20 weeks after the child’s birth. To find out whether you’re eligible for SPL, please visit https://www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay/eligibility.
¹Slater and Gordon Lawyers, May 2015