UK parents fail to understand eligibility for shared leave UK parents fail to understand eligibility for shared leave

UK parents fail to understand eligibility for shared leave
25 May 2018

Many UK parents are still unaware that they are eligible for shared parental leave (SPL), more than three years after the scheme was first introduced.

A government research report, ‘Return to work: parental decision making’, revealed that “parents often lack a sound understanding of SPL eligibility rules, and are not aware that it is a legal entitlement for eligible parents”.

Some parents said they thought access to SPL was at their employer’s discretion. The policy, which was introduced in April 2015, enables eligible couples to share up to 52 weeks of leave between them after the birth of their child, although mothers must take off the two weeks immediately following the birth. The leave must also be taken in a defined number of blocks.

But critics have slammed SPL for failing to live up to expectations. A Freedom of Information request obtained by People Management last June revealed that only 7,100 men received shared parental pay in the 2016-17 tax year, compared with 221,000 who received statutory paternity pay in the same period. 

Pay for parental leave has also been hotly contested recently in employment tribunals. In April, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled that M Ali was not directly discriminated against when his employer, Capita Customer Management, refused to grant him additional paternity leave at full pay. 

But less than a month later, the EAT decided that Mr Hextall, a serving police constable and new dad, may have been indirectly discriminated against because his employer paid mothers full pay during their maternity leave but only the statutory minimum for SPL. The case has now been returned to tribunal level for reconsideration. 

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

 

Many UK parents are still unaware that they are eligible for shared parental leave (SPL), more than three years after the scheme was first introduced.

A government research report, ‘Return to work: parental decision making’, revealed that “parents often lack a sound understanding of SPL eligibility rules, and are not aware that it is a legal entitlement for eligible parents”.

Some parents said they thought access to SPL was at their employer’s discretion. The policy, which was introduced in April 2015, enables eligible couples to share up to 52 weeks of leave between them after the birth of their child, although mothers must take off the two weeks immediately following the birth. The leave must also be taken in a defined number of blocks.

But critics have slammed SPL for failing to live up to expectations. A Freedom of Information request obtained by People Management last June revealed that only 7,100 men received shared parental pay in the 2016-17 tax year, compared with 221,000 who received statutory paternity pay in the same period. 

Pay for parental leave has also been hotly contested recently in employment tribunals. In April, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruled that M Ali was not directly discriminated against when his employer, Capita Customer Management, refused to grant him additional paternity leave at full pay. 

But less than a month later, the EAT decided that Mr Hextall, a serving police constable and new dad, may have been indirectly discriminated against because his employer paid mothers full pay during their maternity leave but only the statutory minimum for SPL. The case has now been returned to tribunal level for reconsideration. 

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

 

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