The Shared Parental Leave regulations have been with us for a year. In this article, Birmingham employment solicitors Hatton James examine the mark that the regulations have left on the HR landscape.

New parents can now split much of the maternity leave between both parents. But it’s not enjoying a great take-up, meaning it is mainly of interest to employment solicitors.

The stated aim of this right is to encourage more fathers to play a greater caring role in the first year, via longer, more flexible shared leave.

Parents choosing to make use of shared parental leave can share up to 37 weeks’ statutory shared parental pay between them. It is paid at the rate of £139.58 per week (or 90% of the employee’s normal earnings if less).

Xpert HR Benchmarking published a survey this month looking at the impact of the regulations. They surveyed almost 400 organisations covering workforce of over 800,000 employees.

They found:

  • 33% of employers had received at least one request in that year.
  • The average length of time taken by the ‘father’ was about 3 months

(father is in quotes because it is also available to gay couples and adopters)

  • This is much longer than the government’s prediction of a fortnight
  • Employees in the public sector are more likely to make requests.
  • Employers that enhance shared parental pay are twice as likely to receive a request.

Only one in 10 employers surveyed agreed that this new right was successful in achieving its objective. 60% disagreed with this.

Employment solicitors generally recommend that handbooks be revised to include references to shared paternal leave.

This right is something that enjoys cross-party support and is likely to be extended to grandparents by 2018. Commentators agree that it is unlikely to suffer from employment law changes after Brexit.

by Raheena Jamila Khan

Image courtesy of Ray Dumas, licensed under CC