Supporting Employees Who Are Parents: Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) is a government initiative that was introduced in the UK in 2015. The purpose of SPL is to provide new parents with more flexibility in how they take time off work to care for their child. Under SPL, eligible parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of statutory pay between them…

shared parental leave

To be eligible for SPL, the birth parent must be entitled to maternity or adoption leave, or the partner of the birth parent must be entitled to paternity or adoption leave. The couple must also share responsibility for the child and meet certain employment and earnings criteria.

The process for taking SPL involves the couple agreeing on a pattern of leave and giving their respective employers notice of their intention to take SPL. The leave can be taken in blocks or all at once, and can also be taken alongside the partner’s maternity, paternity, or adoption leave.

During SPL, the employee is entitled to statutory pay or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for up to 37 weeks. The remaining 13 weeks are unpaid. Employers are not required to pay any additional pay or benefits during SPL, although some may offer enhanced packages.

SPL can be a valuable tool for promoting gender equality in the workplace by allowing both parents to take time off work to care for their child and maintain their career progression.

It also provides a level of flexibility that may be beneficial for families with unique circumstances, such as single-parent households or couples with non-traditional working arrangements.

However, uptake of SPL has been relatively low since its introduction, with only a small percentage of eligible parents taking advantage of the initiative. This may be due to lack of awareness or cultural barriers around men taking extended periods of time off work for childcare.

To encourage greater uptake of SPL, employers can take steps to promote the initiative and provide support for employees who wish to take advantage of it. This can include creating a positive workplace culture around work-life balance and family-friendly policies, as well as offering practical support such as guidance on the SPL process and resources for managing workloads during periods of leave.

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