The introduction of Shared Parental Leave in April 2015 was meant to create choice and to enable families to decide who takes time off to look after children that best suits their personal circumstances.
The reality is that very little has changed in terms of who takes time off, with recent TUC analysis finding that a quarter of dads and partners miss out on parental leave and/or pay (https://www.tuc.org.uk/equality-issues/quarter-new-dads-are-missing-out-paternity-leave-and-pay-says-tuc).
So why isn’t the uptake greater?
It certainly doesn’t seem to be down to a lack of interest from dads or partners wanting to be more involved in caring for their children, or mums wanting to return to work to avoid the so-called maternity pay penalty.
Instead it seems that, whilst the idea was good in theory, a lack of clarity and/or equality regarding the provisions for parental pay mean that more often than not it will be financially preferable (in the short term at least) for ‘Mum’ to take maternity leave rather than her partner.
A number of recent cases have suggested that it may in fact be discriminatory to provide different pay for ‘Mum’ compared to ‘Dad’ in respect of maternity pay and shared parental pay. However, this is an area which remains unclear at present and we are likely to see more decisions and appeals over the coming months.
With proposals to extend the scheme to working grandparents in 2018 it is hoped that some clarification will be provided soon.
If you have any questions about family friendly working, discrimination or any of your employment rights, then we can help. Here at Beecham Peacock we have a trusted relationship with some of the largest trade unions in the country to protect your working rights. For further information call us on 0191 232 3048 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.