Dads cannot afford to take SPL

Two-fifths of dads cannot afford to take Shared Parental Leave (SPL), which some believe show the need for a policy change.

PowWowNow, a meeting provider found that 40 per cent of working dads are not in a position to take up SPL. SPL was introduced in 2015 to allow parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of statutory pay between them following the birth of a child and is designed to allow couples to split child-caring roles more equally.

According to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) figures, only 3.8 per cent of those eligible couples took SPL in 2018/19 which is a slight increase from 2.2 per cent in 2015/16. However, dads claiming Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) increased by 67 per cent from 2015/16 to 2018/19.

Fathers still feel there is a lack of support from their employers for men taking parental leave. Just under a third, (30 per cent) of fathers have seen a mother had their parental leave added to, financially, whilst theirs was not. Most mothers will get an enhanced maternity package from their employer, and statutory maternity pays for up to 39 weeks.

Andrew Johnson, managing director of PowWowNow, said:

Fathers rightly see themselves as equally crucial caregivers for their children and are keen to split childcare responsibilities with their partners more evenly.

Businesses and the government must ensure these shifts in cultural perceptions of gender roles in parenting are reflected in changes to the workplace and in parental leave policies. Workplaces must introduce family-friendly policies and flexible working practices for new fathers. Fathers who are better able to balance work and life commitments will be happier and more productive members of the office. Meanwhile, empowering fathers to take a more active role in child-raising can help tackle gender disparity in the workplace and see us move towards a more equal society.

PowWowNow surveyed 1,000 UK dads about workplace attitudes to parenting to gather these results.