- October is here and the autumnal weather is most definitely upon us but this month has also brought with it the introduction of a completely new system of Shared Parental Leave (ShPL).
- Employees whose Expected Week of Childbirth is on or after 5th April 2015 may soon be notifying you of their pregnancy and will be entitled to take leave under the new scheme. Find out more about who qualifies for ShPL.
The legislation has been brought in to give families more choice in how they parent. Many commentators have welcomed the new scheme as it is seen as an attempt to align UK workplaces with more progressive practices that are commonplace in Europe. It seems the added flexibility is attractive to mothers, with 44% of working mothers indicating they would consider uptake of this new scheme. The government hopes that this will encourage parents to remain economically active and reduce the chance of mothers falling behind their counterparts in their career progression without limiting the care of their child.
Now that all sounds fantastic but there are also those commentators that suggest that the legislation will do little to change current workplace attitudes. In the Real People office we have people sitting in both camps and the debate is ongoing!
Firstly there is the pay issue; there seems to be a clear financial incentive for mothers to take the first six weeks of maternity leave as even under the new scheme it will still be them that will be eligible for the 90% enhancement of Statutory Maternity Pay. Additionally many organisations offer enhanced maternity pay, far higher than the statutory, there is no requirement for shared parental leave pay to match this.
There is also the cultural aspect to consider, apparently as a society we hold values that are more traditional than we might let on, for example one third of the population think that it should be the mother who stays at home when the child is under school age. As we know legislation is not a magic bullet and currently there is a fear amongst fathers that taking extended time off will negatively impact on their career.
Ultimately we will have to wait and see if the new provisions will be popular and if they will help to erode traditional notions of what working families look like. Either way we need to be prepared to support those that do want to take advantage of ShPL and ensure those that do, do not suffer any detriment.