The media recently ran a number of stories about the low take-up of shared parental leave, which was introduced just over a year ago. You can see our previous articles about shared parental leave here.
Most media stories cited take-up as just 1% of fathers in the UK. However, the picture is a little more complicated than that, because this figure was based on data collected from a small sample of only 200 HR Directors, and this was based a proportion of all men employed, not just fathers. Other surveys have shown a higher take-up of around 30%, but all the figures are based on small sample sizes so it is difficult to produce an accurate figure.
Our experience, based on speaking to our clients about the number of shared parental leave requests within their organisations, is that take up is very low indeed.
A low take-up is not unexpected, and indeed the Government’s own impact assessment about the legislation also predicted this, based on the similarly low take-up of additional paternity leave. From the surveys done so far, it seems the biggest cause of the low take-up is primarily financial concerns for families.
Despite the headlines, it is still important for employers to ensure that they are aware of shared parental leave rights and know what to do in case any eligible employee does decide to apply.
We can help with shared parental leave policies, or advise you on the requirements. Please contact any member of the Pure Employment Law team (01243 836840 or [email protected]).