Shared Parental Leave : One Year On

SPL – ONE YEAR ON – SPLash report on what’s working and what’s not Given that shared parental leave provisions have been in force for just over a year now, SPLash has assessed  how well understood the scheme is by parents and prospective parents. We have reviewed all the SPL queries Working Families and Maternity Action have received in the last year. This blog is a summary of our findings. Confusion abounds Most of the individuals who sought advice were confused about one or more aspect of the Regulations.  From eligibility, through to notification and curtailment requirements, leave scheduling and pay entitlements, it is clear that the substantial majority of people getting in contact (and many of their employers) simply did not understand the regulations or how they apply to them. Eligibility By far the most common issue has been eligibility (30% of queries). Given the country’s increasingly complex and fragmented workforce, a lot of couples are being left in confusion about who is entitled to what. Confusions surround issues such as eligibility where the mother is receiving maternity allowance, or where one or both partners is self-employed, on a fixed-term contract due to expire, or working under a “zero hours” contract. People are not clear on who is entitled to leave, how much and why. How to take leave The second most common group of queries are “process queries” (20%), i.e. questions about how SPL can be taken. A surprising number of people are simply unaware that they can take their leave at the same time as their partner or that they can take their leave in discontinuous...

Fatherhood and work: pay bonus, family time deficit

Recent reports on Shared Parental Leave (SPL) suggest fathers are concerned about taking time off in case it affects their careers, but perhaps they should look again. Men reading this week’s report from IPPR for the TUC[i] might think that coming out as a Dad in the workplace could enhance their career:  full time fathers get a 21 per cent “wage bonus” compared with full time non-fathers at age 42.   This is contrasted with the motherhood “penalty” with mothers working full time earning 11 per cent less than women without children working full time at age 42. The report suggests increased work effort by fathers may account for some of the bonus, but positive discrimination may also be an influence.  Perhaps employers think that men with children are more committed to their jobs, and reward them accordingly.   Research in America found that men mentioning parenthood on their CVs scored more highly with employers than non-fathers (while the opposite worked for women). We have certainly heard anecdotal evidence of employers considering Dads a ‘safe hire’ because they are perceived as looking for long term, stable employment and will therefore be reliable and committed. It is also often the case that where the woman has had to stop work (childcare costs, inflexible employers etc) then they can more easily allow the man to work longer hours because they don’t have to share the caring responsibilities. While the reasons for the motherhood penalty are well rehearsed, there’s a danger in thinking fatherhood warrants a pay bonus.    Just as workplace discrimination plays its part in the motherhood penalty, it is harming fathers too....

SPL one year on – reasons to be cheerful?

By Liz Gardiner The first anniversary of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) has passed with a flurry of reports on emerging trends.  Headlines of low take-up hide a more complex situation and there is good news on pay for some parents considering whether they can afford to share. Working Families findings about employers Working Families research[i] among a wide range of employers was published in January 2016 and looked at whether employers are offering enhanced pay for SPL. They found that among those surveyed: a third of employers (32%) are matching Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) with enhanced maternity packages 5% of employers are enhancing pay for some, but not all, periods of SPL 1% of employers have implemented new contractual pay packages 13% of employers are adopting a “wait and see” approach around half (48%) of employers are only offering the statutory minimum pay packages. Reassuringly, for those who were concerned that maternity pay packages would suffer, only 1% of those surveyed said that they had cut back maternity pay to fund ShPP.  Those employers who already understand the benefits of retaining women after maternity leave may be keener to enhance pay for those on SPL. Why enhance? There is no obligation on employers to offer contractual pay on top of the statutory ShPP of £139.58 per week (or 90% of earnings, whichever is lower).  Nor do employers who pay contractual maternity pay have to match this for those on ShPP, as long as they ensure that both men and women on SPL receive the same ShPP (although this has yet to be tested at tribunal).  However, international research shows...

Grandparental leave – pros and cons

The Chancellor has announced that from 2018, under the shared parental leave (SPL) scheme, grandparents will be able to share up to 50 weeks’ leave with their child in order to care for their grandchildren in the first year after birth or placement for adoption. What will such a development mean for families, and when might it be used?

The government says there are 2 million grandparents who have stopped work, reduced their hours or taken time off to provide crucial care for their grandchildren…

Shared Parental leave: a start to breaking down gender inequality?

Shared parental leave (SPL) enables men and women to share care for their children in the first year. I’m going to start by being optimistic – by assuming that men will start taking up this opportunity to take time off to care for their children at this critical phase of their lives, and that this will then lead to a breakdown in the stereotype of women in their 20’s and 30’s as being on ‘the mummy track.’

In her TED talk about women at the top, Sheryl Sandberg points out that women are not making it to the top in any profession in any place in the world…

Is Shared Parental Leave the right choice for me – as a mother?

This blog post helps you understand the pros and cons of shared parental leave (SPL) which is a new option for parents/partners to enable them to share leave/ and pay in a child’s first year.

Employed mothers (and adopters) remain entitled to 52 weeks statutory maternity/adoption leave and, if they qualify, 39 weeks statutory maternity pay (SMP) or statutory adoption pay (SAP). A mother/adopter can shorten her leave/pay, to create a more flexible form of leave, SPL, for her partner and/or herself….