Shared Parental Leave: More than half of dads would use the scheme
When it comes to parental leave after birth, women can take up to 52 weeks for maternity leave, while fathers are allocated just a fortnight.
To try and bridge the gulf, the government introduced Shared Parental Leave in April 2015 to create more choice for parents. After mums take a fortnight of compulsory maternity leave, the remaining 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay can be shared with dads.
Work-life balance charity Working Families, supported by fatherhood community DaddiLife, issued a father’s survey that garnered over 300 responses, which revealed 52 per cent would like to make use of Shared Parental Leave.
The top reasons cited were:
- More time bonding with child – 36 per cent
- They and their partner want to share care – 25 per cent
- Supporting their partner’s career – 10 per cent
- It would make financial sense – 6 per cent
Comparatively, 48 per cent would not use Shared Parental Leave.
The top reasons cited were:
- Couldn’t afford to – 37 per cent
- Not eligible because e.g. one of them is self-employed or one isn’t working – 17 per cent
- Their partner is the primary carer – 13 per cent
- Concern about their employer and the way they’d be perceived – 11 per cent
Elsewhere, a quarter of fathers admitted they didn’t know about Shared Parental Leave, which suggests the government and employers need to do more to raise awareness.
Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, said: “It’s obvious many fathers want to spend time bonding with their child in the early days and to share care with their partner.
“The fact that more than half of fathers want to make use of SPL shows how far we have come on the journey towards shared care and shared careers. Good news for families but also good news for the economy.
“Father willingness and aspiration is there. As we embark on EU exit negotiations the government has said it wants to protect and enhance the rights people have at work. An excellent place to start would be making SPL a day one right for fathers.
“But families are unlikely to make use of SPL unless it makes financial sense for them to do so. The government should consider equalising statutory maternity pay and shared parental pay – to prevent SPL being a second-class option and encourage more fathers to use it. Employers going beyond the minimum pay for SPL would also make it a more realistic option for more families.”
To help increase Shared Parental Leave knowledge, Working Families has teamed Alliance Manchester Business School, Lancaster University School of Management and the Fatherhood Institute to produce video case studies of families that have used Shared Parental Leave.
One outcome of the video cases, according to senior Alliance lecturer Dr Emma Bannister, is that there is a lack of credible and accurate information about the scheme. She promised the footage includes honest feedback that covers positives and negatives.
DaddiLife said of the results: “From the hundreds of fathers we spoke to across the DaddiLife Community, we found that more and more dads want to take extended parental leave beyond what is currently statutory, but don’t feel that it is readily available.
“They want to embrace more parental responsibility than ever, and time with their young families is now just as important as time at work.
“However, what is clear from these results is that British fathers don’t yet have enough awareness and access to SPL. At a time where our economy needs to foster as much productivity as possible, it’s imperative that the government and employers are creating the right conditions to ensure that dads in the workplace are supported.”