Thursday, 11 August 2016
Shared Parental Leave
Introduced in April 2015, the new system allows working couples to share a year off work after
the birth of their child. Aside from the initial two weeks – which the mother must take in order
to recover – they can divide the rest between them.
But while it was hailed as a breakthrough for equality - giving both parents chance to bond with
their babies, and keep their careers on track - why has there been such a dismal take-up by dads?
For many couples contemplating SPL, it seems a simple question of cost: in two-parent families
in which both partners work, men are still the main breadwinners in four in five (78 per cent)
cases, meaning families will lose out financially by the father staying at home.
Whichever parent is on leave receives 90 per cent of their normal salary for the first
six weeks after the birth, which then drops to a statutory £140 a week for the next 33 weeks, and the last three months of a year are left unpaid. Even if couples earn similar amounts, many women receive maternity packages well above and beyond the statutory rate - meaning sharing paternal leave amounts to a financial penalty.
Shared Parental Leave
What is it?
Under laws which came into full effect from April 2015, couples living in mainland Britain are able to divide almost all the traditional maternity leave entitlement between them. It's also available to couples adopting.
How much time can parents take off?
Almost a year. Aside from the compulsory fortnight recovery period new mothers must take after childbirth, the remaining 50 weeks is available to divvy up between parents in any combination.
Does one person always need to be at work?
No, they can take time off together or separately. It's flexible, too, meaning parents could intersperse periods of work and leave, allowing them to return to work for up to 30 days to cover short stints or important projects, then take more time off.
How much does it pay?
Similar to statutory maternity pay: £139.58 a week, or 90% of an employee's average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. Though it is up to an employer if they want to offer more, of course. This is paid for 37 weeks. The other 13, if taken, goes without payment.
What if my boss says no?
If you're eligible, they can't. Unlike other flexible work arrangements, shared parental leave is an employee's right in the same way as maternity leave.
How can I claim it?
First you can check whether you're eligible on the government's website, then give notice to your
employer so that they aren't caught by surprise. It's then simply a case of downloading the
appropriate form to declare your intentions (which can be changed), and booking your blocks of
For more information click here