Can shared parental leave ever work?

The abysmally low take-up rate of shared parental leave (SPL), the policy introduced by the government in 2015, has been much reported. A poll of 1,000 UK employees by YouGov and Winckworth Sherwood, for instance, found just 7 per cent of workers currently take advantage of it.

SPL works by couples choosing how to share up to 50 weeks’ leave and up to 37 weeks’ pay between them in the first year, which they can take in blocks or in one go, and at the same time or separately – whatever suits. The policy, then, is unlike current paternity and maternity leave, which both subtly reinforce the idea that it is the mother (or primary carer) who should look after children rather than the father (or secondary carer) – maternity by offering generous amounts of leave, and paternity by typically offering a very small amount in comparison. So SPL, in theory, offers a solution to gender equality both in the workplace and at home.

Read the full article on People Management.

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