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Father’s Day: It’s time to talk about shared parental leave

Stephen Warnham, jobs expert at Totaljobs, comments:

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“With Father’s Day on Sunday, it’s a timely reminder for the government, employers and new Dads to have more conversations surrounding the adoption of Shared Parental Leave (SPL). Shared Parental Leave legislation from the government means that parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between them the first year after their child is born. This has been available since 2015 but the take-up has been staggeringly low because parents either can’t afford to take it or aren’t aware of it. Just 9,200 new parents have made use of SPL– a mere one per cent of those eligible.”

“The scheme allows fathers to spend more time with their newborn, but, importantly, also helps balance parental responsibilities in the household, by allowing their partner to return to work if they wish. It could even help to level the playing field between men and women at work, if widely used.

“However, with the cost of living rising and the government currently paying just £145 a week, a lot of parents are focusing on trying to make ends meet and struggle to afford shared parental leave.

“With SPL as it stands, it’s unlikely to see a significant rise in popularity unless changes are made. As employers, being able to offer the opportunity for people to spend more time with their families gives parents choice and empowers them to find the work-life balance that suits them.

“No one wants to miss out on their child’s formative years, but understandably juggling working and parenting can be a challenge. Having open and honest conversations surrounding options like shared parental leave is essential to ensure employers and workers can reach an agreement that suits an individual’s needs. Beyond this, employers can embrace progressive ways of working, supporting SPL and systems like flexible working hours to help parents strike the right balance.”