On the first anniversary of Shared Parental Leave (SPL), totaljobs has conducted a fascinating survey highlighting what UK employees feel about the legislation…and the results are not as optimistic as one might have hoped.
The key takeaways from the report are….
- 85% of employees think that families cannot afford SPL.
- 81% fear the impact of taking SPL on their careers.
Although 80% believe that SPL will strengthen the role of fathers in the family, 74% have received no guidance on SPL from their HR departments and 67% of women are not clear about or don’t know what SPL is.
Despite the small uptake of the policy, 75% of respondents think that SPL will reduce gender stereotypes about parenthood and 66% believe it will decrease inequality in the workplace, with more men taking time off and women returning to work more quickly.
Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of women’s rights and equality organisation the Fawcett Society said: “What this survey shows very clearly is that current arrangements for Shared Parental Leave will not fundamentally change entrenched gender roles around who does the caring. We need game changer and we think a dedicated period of leave for dads paid close to replacement income rate is the way to go, leading to equalised leave entitlements over time.”
Adrienne Burgess, Joint CEO and Head of Research at the Fatherhood Institute shared her insights: “The UK system of Shared Parental Leave has restricted eligibility, meaning that no more than 30% of mothers and fathers can use it. This, plus the fact that it is paid at such a low rate (£27.60 per day) and that most parents don’t know about it, means that uptake will be very low.
The UK needs the kind of parental leave system common in the rest of Europe, which widens eligibility to all employed parents and pays 90% wage replacement, with a cap for high earners. Once that is in place, leave taking will become normative (as taking paternity leave is now) and fathers and mothers will be less worried about the impact on their careers.”
So is Shared Parental Leave just lip service then? What is the best workable solution then?
Esther Radnor, Founding Director at Mum Plus Business, believes the key might be in flexiwork: “We believe that anything that gives families flexibility as to when and where they work is positive. Therefore we believe that shared parental leave has been a good step forward in breaking down gender inequality, offering women and men the chance to return to work when they feel it is the right time for them.
“For some mothers, an extended career break is what they want and need, while others might want to return to work sooner. Any initiative that offers families more choices and can help parents develop themselves and their careers is something that we support.”
To view the full report see here.
What do you think about Shared Parental Leave? Have you or someone you know taken Shared Parental Leave, or perhaps you are considering it? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.
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