Few Fathers Opt In For Shared Parental Leave

Concerns Over Pay And Prejudice Leave Little New Fathers Taking Parental Leave


Oliver Wicks, Press Officer | 0114 274 4649

Employment lawyers at Irwin Mitchell say the shared parental leave laws are ‘extremely complicated’ and they are ‘not surprised’ by new figures, which reveal how many new fathers are not taking advantage of the new law introduced one year ago.

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) was introduced on 5 April 2015 to give parents more choice and flexibility in caring for their children during the first 12 months after their birth. Parents can split 52 weeks leave and receive some payment for 39 of those weeks - that is on top of the two weeks’ statutory paternity leave available to fathers.

New figures reveal that just 40% of employers say that their firm encourages sharing leave in research among 200 employers by firm My Family Care.

According to research on 200 employers led by firm My Family Care, only 40% of workers said that parental leave was encouraged by their employer, and with statutory pay set at a maximum of £139.58 a week, 80% of employees surveyed said taking leave would depend on finances - even though almost half of businesses said they offered enhanced pay.

More than four out of 10 employers had not seen a single male employee take up the right and at 11%, only between 0.5% and 1% of male workers had taken shared parental leave and fewer than 10% reported more than 1% take-up. A further quarter of firms were not able to give a figure.

Yet the research conducted found that the main concern over taking SPL was over career progression, with half of men saying they thought the leave was perceived negatively at work and 55% of mothers questioned said they did not want to share their leave.

Fergal Dowling, Employment Partner, said:

Expert Opinion
“We are not surprised by the low take up of men taking shared parental leave. The system is extremely complicated and is not open to all partners as both partners have to be working and one of them has to be employed (self-employment does not count). The rate of pay is also a big factor and many individuals simply can’t afford to take the financial hit of only receiving £139.58 a week.

“It is also disappointing that men believe that their career will be damaged if they take time off to care for their child. Overcoming these sorts of prejudices is key if shared parental leave is going to take off.

“The government has recently announced that it is going to extend shared parental leave to grandparents and this might be more popular as many grandparents already play a vital role in caring for their grandchildren.”

Fergal Dowling, Partner