British Men Aren't Using Their Shared Parental Leave, Says Study

Despite a law stating that all new parents are entitled to share up to 50 weeks of share parental leave, parents aren't taking full advantage of the system, says study.

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Last time we checked, it takes two people to make a baby.

However, a new study conducted by commercial law firm EMW has found that only one of the sexes is taking full advantage of their parental leave.

Under a new law introduced in 2015, all employers must offer the opportunity for new parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of statutory pay between them.

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Despite the law, the study found that a 661,000 mothers and 221,000 fathers took maternity and paternity leave during the time - meaning that less than one per cent took up the chance of shared parental leave, reports the Independent.

EMW said the figures show that shared leave is 'being significantly underutilised' and may suggest we're yet to get rid of the 'cultural stigma of men taking lengthy amounts of time off work to care for their children'.

The authors of the study wrote: 'In many cases new parents, particularly fathers, could be concerned about the impact on their career if they take lengthy time off.

'The fast pace of change in the workplace could mean that staff feel they can fall behind in their career just by taking a few months off.'

The researchers also said the policy has only been in place for two years so its relative newness may account for low participation levels. It could also be due to the fact that those who opt to take part in the UK's shared parental leave are only eligible for 90 per cent of their salaries.

'This step down in income could be a deterrent against claiming, as many new parents may find they need at least one or both of their full salaries,' the study noted.

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According to Gov.uk, to be eligible for shared parental leave a parent must share responsibility for a child with one of the following:

  • your husband, wife, civil partner or joint adopter
  • the child's other parent
  • your partner (if they live with you and the child)

Employees must also have been employed continuously by the company for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date (or the week of an agreed adoption match) and remain with the same employer during the shared leave.

Parents can even book up to three separate blocks of leave instead of taking it all in one go, even if they aren't sharing the leave with a partner.

When you think about the fact only 12 per cent of all workers in the US have access to paid parental leave, us Brits should count ourselves lucky.

Take the shared parental leave if you can, people.

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