4 reasons to consider shared parental leave

By Robert Half on 8th November 2019

Have you considered taking shared parental leave (SPL)? Despite its introduction as a more equal leave opportunity, a 2018 survey has shown that only 1% of parents are taking advantage of shared leave. However, research by the University of Birmingham shows the individuals claimants for Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) the statutory paid part of SPL has increased by 73% between 2015/2016 and 2018/19. 

There has been wide range of research into the reasons that take-up has been low however, the benefits of shared parental leave can be excellent but are often not considered. Here’s what you can expect when sharing leave and what your shared parental leave rights will be, should you choose to take it.

Shared parental leave law

Shared parental leave (SPL) is commonplace in Nordic countries like Sweden, Norway and Iceland, but only reached the UK in 2015. Traditionally, maternity leave is 52 weeks and paternity leave is two, but under parental leave law, UK parents have the option to split 50 weeks’ leave and 37 weeks of statutory pay between them. It aims to give professionals a much more even, flexible approach to taking time off for childcare.

Jeremy Davies (Fatherhood Institute) told The Guardian: “The disparity between maternity leave and paternity leave in the UK is the biggest in the developed world. Men get two weeks and women get 52. What does that say to everybody about who’s responsible for kids?” 

According to shared parental leave regulations, birth parents are eligible if they have shared responsibility for the child since birth and if they meet work and pay criteria. Both parents must have worked for their employer for a minimum of 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due.

Making the most out of parental leave law in the UK

Here are some of the benefits of shared parental leave, what shared parental leave regulations give you access to, and reasons you may find it preferable to maternity or paternity leave.

1. Reintegration back into the workplace is easier
Maternity leave can amount to a 52-week hiatus from work — more than enough to leave anyone feeling out of the loop and slightly intimidated about reintegration.

Although there are several options which can help maintain a connection to the workplace (such as keep in touch days (KIT) or the ability to return to work 2 weeks after giving birth), your shared parental leave rights can offer a more rounded solution.

2. More leave options for both parents
Under shared parental leave regulations, both parties can take shared leave however they choose. They can take time off at the same time or alternate who stays at home and who goes back to work. Shared parental leave can be taken as single blocks of time or as smaller chunks, interspersed with work over the course of a year. This gives both parents the right to take leave together or to both work part time. 

Graham Ashcroft, who works in Community Engagement at Etsy commented in iNews: “For my first children, I only had two weeks off, and I remember being groggy the first few months back and not that productive. So I think from a business perspective, policies like this help retain talent and increase productivity in the long-term.”

3. Better work-life flexibility
By choosing to take shared leave, both parents are increasing the number of options they each have regarding their home and work lives. 

Nikki Slowey, Joint Programme Director of Family Friendly Working Scotland, recently said

“…creating more options for fathers means mothers benefit from greater choice in how to balance their own work and home life – mothers don’t have to be the only parent to take time out. This, in turn, is good for businesses because happier employees are more engaged and productive.”

4. Your employment rights will still be protected
Your shared parental leave rights give you similar benefits and protection as traditional leave. This includes the right to return to the same job you left, or one of equal pay and station. Under parental leave law, you’ll still get paid holiday, accrued holiday, pay rises, promotions and protection from unfair dismissal.

Looking for a role that takes parental leave law into consideration?

Are you interested in finding a new job opportunity that will help you enjoy the benefits of shared parental leave? Would you like to join a company culture that actively and positively supports your rights under parental leave law? Browse current vacancies, upload your CV or get in touch with our team today.

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