Lovewell’s Logic: Will shared parental leave take off?

From Monday (1 December), new rules will mean that, for the first time, working mothers and fathers will be able to share a period of parental leave for 12 months after the birth or adoption of a child.

Debbie Lovewell, deputy editor, Employee Benefits

As well as offering eligible families much greater flexibility around childcare following the birth or placement of a child, these new rights also present an opportunity for employers to strengthen their position as a family-friendly employer by enhancing their packages for staff. Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Shell, for example, have already announced their intentions to offer enhanced paternity packages once shared parental rights come into effect.

However, several pieces of research published this week suggest that not all employers will be prepared for the number of employees who opt to take advantage of the new rights.

Business outsourcing firm ADP’s report The workforce view 2014/15, for example, found that a fifth of HR directors are not ready to meet the requirements of the legislation. And with 70% of respondents predicting that there will be little or no interest from staff, I wonder how much of a priority readying their organisations will be?

Yet, research by law firm Linklaters, which surveyed 250 FTSE 100 workers who have become parents in the last two years or are due to do so in the next six months, found that just under two-thirds of this group are either interested or very interested in taking up shared parental leave.

Although not all will ultimately do so, this suggests take up could potentially far exceed the government’s predicted 2%-6%.

Of course, these samples only represent a small proportion of the eligible employee population, so only time will tell how many staff will actually choose to share parental leave.

I look forward to hearing more about the steps employers take to help support their working parents.

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
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