Spike in the amount of shared parental leave expected

The use of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) is expected to rise by 10 per cent in the future.

This is according to the law firm, Winckworth Sherwood, who found that currently only 7 per cent of UK employees have taken it so far, but they predict this will rise to 17 per cent.  The law firm has told businesses they expect a lot more employees in the future to take SPL.

Louise Lawrence, a partner at Winckworth Sherwood, said:

The statutory scheme for shared parental leave is complex, and it’s relatively low paid, but nevertheless a major shift could be upon us.

As societal norms change and fathers feel more able to request time off, families may decide they want to share responsibilities more equally. Pay is clearly important and if employers decide to match their enhanced maternity pay, we expect to see more take up of shared parental leave. Increasingly, both parents may seek extended time away from work and employers should plan for this eventuality.

Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed is happy to see the rise of the use of SPL but added that paternity leave needs to increase.

Ms Brearley believes that paternity leave should match the six weeks that new mothers receive.

Ms Brearley said:

We should allow dads to be more involved from the get go, whereas shared parental leave is too often a ‘nice to have’ for couples that can afford it.

We need to change the message that mums are the primary carers by enabling dads to have the same opportunity to take paid time at the beginning and start to truly level the playing field by doing so.

The research also looked at how flexible working was being accommodated in to SPL and found that 72 per cent of HR feel it is important for recruitment and retention purposes, while 69 per cent of employees feel it is an important aspect while considering a new role.

However, over three-quarters (78 per cent) of HR believe there are barriers to offering flexible working. With their biggest worry being employees’ ability to carry out their work effectively (39 per cent).

More than one-tenth (12 per cent) of employees stated they would lack motivation or be too distracted if they worked from home. However, 23 per cent of HR decision makers have concerns regarding trusting their employees to work from home effectively.

This research was gathered by a joint poll between YouGov and Winckworth Sherwood which asked the opinions of 1,000 UK employees and 500 HR decision makers.