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BIS survey reveals majority support for shared parental leave

Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

The new scheme of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) will become available this year for parents whose expected week of childbirth begins on or after 5 April 2015, or who are placed for adoption on or after that date.

The scheme will give rise to the possibility of childcare responsibility being shared more evenly between both parents. 

There has been much speculation as to how popular the scheme would prove to be, but a survey carried out in December 2014 by Opinion Matters (commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) has revealed that the scheme has majority support from parents, prospective parents and non-parents alike. 

Published on 13 January 2015, the report was based on a survey of 2,138 adults from across the UK, of whom 1,232 were already parents. It revealed that 53% of respondents felt that childcare should be shared equally between parents and, of that 53%, a higher percentage of men than women (56% compared with 50%) took this view.

The survey also revealed that, of those surveyed, 63% of women were currently the main childcare provider, in contrast to 23% of men.  However, 67% of parents questioned said they would have considered taking SPL had it been available to them, with a higher percentage of fathers (75%) than mothers (63%) saying that they would have done so. Of those considering becoming parents in the future, 83% said they would consider taking SPL.

Male respondents cited an opportunity to create stronger bonds with their children and an increased ability for their partners to return to their careers as potential benefits of Shared Parental Leave. However, 38% expressed a concern that it would hinder them financially or impact negatively on their career (32%). Broken down by gender, more women thought it was acceptable to take a longer period off work following birth than men.

Given this positive reception for SPL, it would be advisable for employers to prepare themselves for a high volume of requests from employees wishing to opt into the scheme.  If you feel your business might benefit from a greater understanding of the obligations for employers and employees arising from the scheme we can offer some assistance in the form of our forthcoming Focus On sessions on Family Friendly Rights.  These are taking place in Glasgow and Edinburgh on 11 and 12 February, respectively. 

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