Will shared parental leave transform family-friendly working?

The new right to shared parental leave is intended to promote a major culture shift in the sharing of childcare responsibilities between men and women. XpertHR research accesses the effect that it is having in practice.

Shared parental leave podcast

Podcast: Shared parental leave XpertHR editors Susan Dennehy and Michael Carty discuss HR’s preparations for and views on shared parental leave.

In the latest XpertHR weekly podcast, employment law editor Susan Dennehy is joined by benchmarking editor Michael Carty to discuss new XpertHR research on the current and expected take-up and impact of shared parental leave.

Shared parental leave has been hailed as one of the most transformative family-friendly policies to date. Former employment minister Jo Swinson – who oversaw its introduction – recently spoke of her hope “that the outdated assumption that childcare is only an issue for mums will be firmly put to bed as shared parental leave becomes more established”.

Shared parental leave gives mothers the right to end their period of maternity leave early and share untaken leave and pay with their partner. The right applies to working couples with babies due on or after 5 April 2015, provided each parent qualifies for leave and pay in their own right. There are similar arrangements for adoptive parents.

HR professionals strongly support shared parental leave in principle, according to the 2015 XpertHR Benchmarking survey on shared parental leave, which draws on data from 575 organisations with a combined workforce of 2.2 million employees. But they are concerned that the new right is complex to administer in practice and is creating a significant administrative workload.

Although it is early days for shared parental leave, Carty notes in the podcast that take-up has so far been low, and will continue to be slow to increase over the coming year. Take-up is likely to be affected by the levels of shared parental pay on offer, as there is no obligation on employers to enhance shared parental pay.

Parents on shared parental leave can share up to 37 weeks’ statutory shared parental pay between them, at a flat rate of £139.58 per week from April 2015, or 90% of the employee’s earnings if this is less. The rate of statutory shared parental pay is paid at the same as the flat rate of statutory maternity pay.

  • XpertHR Benchmarking subscribers can access and drill down into the full results of the survey and generate bespoke reports on how their organisation compares.
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