The implementation of Shared Parental Leave caused a great stir among employers, raising concerns over how greater employee freedoms could impact the wider structure of their business. However research suggests that many men are reluctant to opt into the scheme due to a fear of un-preferential treatment in the work place.
Introduced as part of the Governments incentive to equalise the rights of parents regarding paternity and maternity leave, the scheme allows parents to choose how they wish to share 50 weeks leave following the birth or adoption of their child. Although statistics show that this is indeed what new parents want with 87 per cent of men saying they would like to split the leave with their partner, the amount of men actually opting into the scheme has proved significantly lower.
It appears the greatest deterrent that is preventing soon to be dads from asking their boss for SPL is concern over how the decision will be interpreted in the work place. 31 percent believe their manager will not understand their decision, with a further 20 percent arguing that they would be mocked by colleges. Shockingly, a fifth thought that the scheme would provide grounds for work place discrimination, preventing them from promotion or career progression.
Whilst a significant portion of this reluctance can be attributed to cultural attitudes, employers are equally responsible as they have a duty to promote the new legislation managing any concerns their employees may voice. Employers must take the necessary steps to reassure staff choosing to opt into the scheme will not have a negative impact on their reputation, or adversely effect their career progression.
Raising awareness of Shared Parental Leave among the work force, as well as providing employees with clear guidelines on how the scheme works can hold numerous benefits for employers. The key to a productive and loyal work force is providing an environment in which employees feel comfortable working, adopting a flexible approach where necessary depending on their needs. Shared Parental Leave does just this, allowing parents greater control over the split of their time which in turn demonstrates that employers are concerned about what is in the best interest for them and their family.