Shared Parental Leave - Businesses Must Prepare For 'Sea-Change' In Working Patterns

Half Of Couples Claim They Would Be Better Off If They Shared Leave

02.04.2015

David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

UK businesses are unprepared for a ‘sea-change’ in working patterns following the introduction of new shared parental leave rules on 5 April 2015 and face a rise in costly discrimination claims as a result.

The warning from national law firm Irwin Mitchell follows on from its recent research which highlighted that half (49 per cent) of UK couples claim that they would be better off financially if they shared their parental leave following the birth of their child.

The survey of 2,000 working couples also revealed that two thirds of men would be happy to be a stay-at-home dad.

Shared Parental Leave rules allow parents whose babies are due on or after 5 April (or those who will adopt a child on or after that date) to share up to 50 weeks of parental leave. Previously, the majority of fathers had two weeks of paid paternity leave while mothers could have up to 12 months’ maternity leave (nine of which were paid).

Chris Tutton, an employment partner at national law firm Irwin Mitchell, said:

According to Irwin Mitchell, many businesses have underestimated the popularity of shared parental rules.

Each year 285,000 working couples are expected to be eligible, however the Government predicts that just 5,700 couples will take advantage in the first year.
Irwin Mitchell’s survey suggests that the uptake will be much higher with more than a third of men saying that shared parental leave would be the most sensible option for their family as their wife or girlfriend earns more than them.

Nine out of 10 couples where the woman is the main breadwinner said that they worry how they would cope financially if the mother were to take their full maternity leave.

Sixty-one per cent of men claim they would be happy to become a stay-at-home dad, even if it had a detrimental effect on their career in the future.

Chris Tutton added: