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Shared Parental Leave

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From April 2015, a new ‘Shared Parental Leave’ regime will give parents greater flexibility to ‘share’ their entitlement to time off work to look after a new child.

A recent government survey – ‘Shared parental leave: public attitudes’ - revealed that currently, 63% of women and 23% of men are the main childcare provider. The remainder either shared childcare equally or received outside support. One of the key findings was that more than half (53%) thought that childcare should be shared equally between parents and - perhaps somewhat surprisingly - more men than women held this view.

Some other interesting findings were that:

  • 22% felt that childcare should be the main responsibility of the mother
  • 67% said they would have taken shared parental leave if it had been available
  • 83% said they would consider taking shared parental leave
  • Male respondents cited the perceived benefits as greater fairness in parenting, developing closer bonds with their children and a positive impact on their partner’s career progression. In contrast, the main concerns of male respondents were financial worries and that taking shared parental leave could have a detrimental impact on their careers.

(*source – Shared Parental Leave: public attitudes: BIS, January 2015)

The new regime is seen by many as a significant departure from the traditional view that childcare is mainly the responsibility of the mother. The survey suggests that many UK employees will certainly consider taking shared parental leave and employers will need to be ready deal with this significant change come April 2015.

For advice on the new shared parental leave regime and updating employment policies in readiness for new rules, please contact a member of our Employment team.