The government has launched a new ‘Share the joy’ campaign promoting shared parental leave rights for parents, after discovering take up of the scheme could be as low as 2%
The workplace right for eligible parents allows them to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay after having a baby. They can take time off separately or they can be at home together for up to six months.
Around 285,000 couples every year are eligible but take up could be as low as 2% and around half of the general public are unaware that the option exists for parents.
In response the government’s campaign provides detailed information and guidance on a new website, which will be backed up with digital website advertising, social media, adverts in train stations and on commuter routes.
Andrew Griffith, business minister, said: ‘Shared Parental Leave gives choice to families. Dads and partners don’t have to miss out on their baby’s first step, word or giggle – they can share the childcare, and share the joy.
Employers can reap the benefits too. We know that flexibility in work is proven to create happier, more loyal and more productive workforces.’
Shared parental leave was introduced in 2015 to offer choice to eligible parents when it comes to childcare, and allow mothers to return to work sooner if they wish to. The policy benefits employers who can retain talent in their workforce and can contribute to closing their gender pay gap.
It is available to couples where one of the parents qualifies for maternity leave (ML) and/or statutory maternity pay (SMP) or maternity allowance (MA) or, in the case of adopters and individuals who are having a baby with the help of a surrogate mother, adoption leave (AL) and/or statutory adoption pay (SAP).
Essentially the parent who qualifies for maternity or adoption entitlements is able to turn any leave and pay/allowance which they do not intend to use into SPL and/or statutory shared parental pay (ShPP) which the parents can share (subject to meeting eligibility requirements). Up to 50 weeks of SPL and up to 37 weeks of ShPP are potentially available and eligible parents can also take this leave and pay in a more flexible way: each parent can take up to three blocks of SPL and/or ShPP and can return to work between periods of leave and pay if they wish.
Separately, HMRC has also issued updated guidance on paying maternity pay where an employee works for another employer.
Report by Pat Sweet