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Fathers not opting for shared parental leave

Only 1% of dads have taken up the option to share parental leave, according to a survey of employers and parents

 

A vast majority of fathers are not taking up the chance to share leave with their partners, according to research published a year after the rights came into force.

My Family Care – which advises businesses on being family-friendly – and the Women’s Business Council found that just 1% of men have so far taken up the opportunity to share their partner’s parental leave.

The research also found that while 55% of women said they would not want to share their maternity leave, nearly half (48%) of mothers wanted to have a shorter time off for career purposes.

Shared parental leave (SPL) was introduced to give parents more choice and flexibility in caring for their children during the first 12 months after their birth.

The policy, which was introduced by the previous coalition government in April 2015, allows new parents to split up to 52 weeks of shared parental leave between them as well as up to 39 weeks of statutory shared parental pay.

This is on top of the two weeks’ statutory paternity leave available to fathers.

The combined survey of over 1,000 parents and 200 businesses found that taking up SPL was dependent on a person’s individual circumstances, particularly on their financial situation and the paternity pay on offer from their employer.

A decision to share leave would be dependent on their finances and their employer’s enhancement of SPL, according to 80% of both men and women surveyed.

Lack of awareness, and unwillingness from women to share their maternity leave were also considered important factors.

But, while take up is still low, the research found that men are interested in taking SPL in the future.

Almost two thirds (63%) of men who already have young children, and are considering having more, saying it was likely they would choose to take SPL.

Father-of-three and My Family Care co-founder Ben Black said: “It is still very early days for Shared Parental Leave.

“While take-up is low, its introduction was a fantastic step forward when it comes to equality in the workplace; a policy that proves that women are no longer expected to be the main childcare provider, while men are no longer expected to be the main breadwinner.

“The key thing for businesses is to help their employees combine work and family, by providing them with choices and enabling them to carry on with their careers while having a family.”

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