As Shared Parental Leave reaches it’s one year anniversary, it’s been widely reported in the media today that research shows the take up has been minimal, with just 1% of men choosing to make use of it.

Shared Parental Leave (“SPL”) was first introduced in April 2015 and gives parents the option of spreading almost a years worth of leave between the two of them rather than the traditional pattern of the mother being allocated the bulk of the time off.

A couple therefore can in effect split the 50 week allowance in whichever manner best suits their needs and an employer is expected to accommodate this within reason.

The research published today by My Family Care and the Women’s Business Council show that 55% of women say they don’t want to share the leave with their partner.  Interestingly it also shows that only just 1% of fathers have chosen to opt for shared parental leave over the traditional two weeks of paternity leave with half saying they feel taking more time off would be perceived negatively at work.

The research did indicate that 63% of fathers said they would make use of it if they were to have another child.

The Government’s idea behind SPL was to allow women to return to work sooner after giving birth but this has clearly not been the case in practice.

Victoria Mitchell, Associate Partner & Head of Employment at Farleys Solicitors LLP says:

“This remains an interesting developing area of law. In 2015 we received a number of enquiries from employers about SPL, how it would exactly operate and in relation to changes they would need to make. Further to this, those employers saw very little actual take up by employees. 

It is however still very early days and in reality 2016 should show us the true picture of whether this becomes utilised more and more and how employers react to any increased use. 

From today’s research it would appear that 80% of couples surveyed say the decision to share their leave will be wholly dependant on their financial situation and on whether their employer had chosen to offer an enhancement on the basic pay stipulated by the SPL policy.”

If you require HR and employment law advice and support on Shared Parental Leave; contracts of employment; Staff Handbooks or related family friendly policies and procedures contact Farleys HR & Employment Law team on 0845 287 0939