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Shared Parental Leave 2017/2018 Update

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Shared Parental Leave 2017/2018 Update

Shared Parental Leave 2017/2018 Update

Take up of Shared Parental Leave remains remarkably low, with just 9,200 new parents taking advantage of the scheme in 2017/18* - only 500 more parents than last year.

Introduced in April 2015, Shared Parental Leave allows both new parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of statutory pay between them, in place of maternity leave and pay.

Only just over 1% of all parents eligible for Shared Parental Leave are using the scheme. Many new parents still choose not to share leave, as the increased costs of having children mean they often need to keep at least one or both of their salaries. The Government should be putting strategies in place to encourage businesses to provide more family friendly policies, such as additional tax breaks for childcare provisions, in-work creches, and flexible working.

Jon Taylor, Principal in our Employment team, says: “Even accounting for a period of time to bed in the new programme, take up is remarkably low. This is a result not only of cultural factors, the gender pay gap and also the simple economics of parents ensuring they are able to pay for new children.”

“Gender pay reporting shows that nationally there is still a significant gap between the salaries of women and men. So when it comes to deciding which salary will be sacrificed during maternity leave it often makes economic sense to give up the lower salary, which is often the woman’s.”

“The experiences of missing out on promotions, pay rises and discriminatory treatment that many women taking maternity leave report may also further discourage the take up of shared parental leave.”

“Many employers offer enhanced maternity leave and pay schemes, but don’t - and have no obligation to - offer similarly enhanced shared parental leave and pay schemes. Therefore, taking maternity leave remains the logical option for many couples.”

“New parents still aren’t making the most of Shared Parental Leave, despite the flexibility it can offer. Employers may find that being open and approachable about parental leave could help to improve loyalty and retention of talented staff.”

For more information on this topic, please get in touch with Jon Taylor or give us a call on 0345 070 6000.

*Year end March 2018
**ONS stats, UK unemployment rates (aged 16 years and over)