Shockingly less than 9000 new parents took parental leave last year, yet hundreds of thousands took their maternity and paternity leave as standard. Seemingly, many parents are not aware of their rights when it comes to shared parental leave, leaving the need for an employer to ensure that their staff are aware of these rights.
Shared parental leave was introduced in April 2015, to give employees with caring responsibilities the opportunity to choose how to share time off work and is designed to give parents more flexibility in how to share the care of the child in the first year following birth or adoption. The legislation allows for new parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of statutory pay between them within the first year of birth or adoption of the child.
As an employer, you should take a proactive approach towards shared parental leave, ensuring employees both male and female are offered this leave, offering the opportunity for them to control how best to manage the arrival of their new born bundle of joy. Not only can this decrease stress and pressure that some may feel when making work/life considerations, it will also increase morale, boosting employee sentiment towards your company for taking their needs in consideration. One of the roadblocks is a perception of the traditional roles of male and females and people can be worried how putting in a shared parental leave request would be viewed by the senior management and other employees. Companies should look at encouraging an open culture that celebrates diversity and equal opportunities for all.
Another roadblock that may standing in the way of new parents taking shared parental leave is the perceived complexity of it, with both men and women opting to take the traditional maternity/paternity route and sacrificing the flexibility offered by SPL. Educating employees on how this process works and the flexibility it offers can help contribute to a cultural change in how childcare is managed, allowing the responsibilities of childcare to be shared between both parents, offering the mother the right to return to work early should she so choose. Work/balance and a fear of falling out sync with their role can be a fear with some mothers on maternity leave, offering shared parental leave can allow them to take greater control over how they manage this.
Ultimately, education is key in promoting the uptake of shared parental leave within your business – If you would any guidance on how you can help your employees with their childcare and parental leave arrangements or if you would like to put together a parental leave policy, get in touch with the HPC team today.