You know Shared Parental Leave – the thing where you and your partner can share paid time off after having a baby? No? You’re not alone.

Shared Parental Leave was introduced in 2015, and around 285,000 couples are eligible every year, however only 2% take advantage of the option.

So what exactly is it? Well, Shared Parental Leave is available to anyone having a baby or adopting a child. It can only be used by two people – the mother/adopter and either the father of the child or the spouse, civil partner or partner of the child’s mother/adopter.

The two people can share up to 50 weeks of leave, and up to 37 weeks of pay between each other, allowing the father or partner to take more than standard paternity leave and allowing the mother to go back to work earlier, sharing the childcare responsibility.

You can use SPL to take leave in blocks separated by periods of work, or take it all in one go. You can also choose to be off work together or to stagger the leave and pay.

So why haven’t more people taken advantage? Well – we believe there’s a number of reasons:

  1. The option isn’t widely known – the majority of the general public aren’t aware that they can use the leave, or what the benefits are.
  2. There is still a cultural stigma around men taking time off work, and many feel it could send the message that they are less committed to their jobs, jeopardising promotions or pay rises.
  3. There may be financial penalties to sharing leave – there is still a wide gender gap between men and women’s pay, and for some families having the man stay in work makes more financial sense.

So if you’re an employer why not educate your team about Shared Parental Leave – there are many benefits to both families and businesses. Sharing the leave can allow for much more flexibility and work-life balance which is known to increase wellbeing and productivity – a win for everybody!

Promoting Shared Parental Leave also allows for a change to the stereotype that the man is the breadwinner and the woman is a caregiver. Come on – today’s society does not reflect that convention so this type of leave shouldn’t either.

Shared Parental Leave also reflects a real change to outdated views on the traditional family unit. Same sex couples can share the leave instead of one taking maternity or adoption leave and the other only paternity leave, again avoiding labelling one of the couple as the primary caregiver.

So let’s start shouting about it! If you would like to find out more about Shared Parental Leave, or how you can create more awareness of the option in your business, do give us a call on 01736 339 384 or email HelloThere@sapiencehr.co.uk