In April 2015, the law changed so that new mothers and fathers could take an equal share of time off to care for a new child. The new rules mean that mums and dads can now share up to 50 weeks of time off work. However, many men are not taking this opportunity. Here we look at the possible reasons for this and whether Shared Parental Leave has a future.
In January 2016, Working Families conducted a survey of employers to judge how the new rules on Shared Parental Leave are working. The main conclusion was although employers are supportive of the changes, there needs to be a bigger take up, with only between 0.5 per cent and 2 per cent of fathers who were eligible making use of the new rules.
The rules relating to paternity leave and pay
Before April 2015, new mothers were entitled to up to one year off work to care for a new baby while dads were allowed to take up to two weeks off for which they received Statutory Paternity Pay. From April 2015, new parents can also apply for Shared Parental Leave and Pay. The rules regarding who can take Shared Parental Leave are complex for both employers and employees, which could be one reason it has not been too popular.
More clarity needed
Employers still feel that they don’t know enough about Shared Parental Leave to be able to offer it as an option to their employees, while many employees may also not be aware of it. If you are looking for a new job or employee using a Belfast recruitment agent such as www.lynnrecruitment.co.uk, they should know the new rules. Statutory pay for Shared Parental Leave is only for 37 weeks and is based on the lower of £139.58 per week or 90 per cent of average weekly earnings, and this may also be a factor. There is also research that suggests new fathers are concerned about the impact that taking time off will have on future prospects and career progression.
As the new law approaches its one-year anniversary, it will be interesting to see how many more fathers decide to take this up and whether this will continue to gain enthusiasm from both employers and employees.