On the first anniversary of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) coming into force (on 6th April 2016), Bates Wells Braithwaite (BWB) has surveyed 100 employers of different sizes, from across a range of sectors. Please click here to read the full report. 

  • Take-up of Shared Parental Leave has been low. 65% of employers have had no requests, and 30% have had only 1 or 2 requests
  • Only 21% of employers felt that they had a good understanding of Shared Parental Leave across their organisation

One year on, the rules, intended to encourage more equal sharing of childcare responsibilities, do not seem to have changed much in the workplace. 74% of employers felt that Shared Parental Leave had made no difference to how their organisation approaches caring responsibilities after the birth of a child. A further 12% said it had made only a marginal difference, and 10% specified it had made a small difference.

The research indicates that unclear and over-complicated rules may be preventing organisations from creating effective policies and communicating these to employees. A worrying 38% of respondents reported a ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ understanding of SPL across their organisation. Even HR departments are struggling to understand the implications of the new legislation; where requests for SPL had been received, they had been complicated to handle correctly.

Paul Seath, Partner at BWB, commented: “Whilst the introduction of Shared Parental Leave has been a welcome step, the complexity of the rules means that in reality, little has changed for gender equality in the workplace or for working parents. The complexity of SPL has lead to a significant amount of work and confusion for employers, the Government would do well to simplify and clarify the rules if it intends the policy to be successful.”

Employers also seem to be struggling with deciding on whether or not they were able to enhance pay for stay-at-home parents. Of those who enhance maternity pay beyond statutory, 50% of employers have either not enhanced Statutory Parental Pay at all, or not to the same level as they enhance maternity pay. Enhanced benefits may however encourage uptake of SPL; 60% of the applications for SPL were received by organisations that did enhance their pay to the same level as they enhance maternity pay.

If you have any questions regarding the content covered in the article above, please contact the Employment Department.

Posted on 06/04/2016 in BWB News

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