A survey conducted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has found that 83% of potential future parents would consider taking Shared Parental Leave (SPL).

Interestingly the survey also found that 75% of existing fathers would have taken SPL if it had been available to them.

SPL allows parents to split 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay in the child’s first year, following the first two weeks recovery period that mothers have to take off after birth, and is available to parents expecting babies or ready to adopt a child from 5 April 2015. SPL also lets parents suggest a flexible pattern of leave and allows for up to three separate blocks of leave, but employers can agree to more.

Many businesses will have been receiving queries and requests from expectant parents since 1 December 2014 when the legislation came into force.

Jo Swinson, Employment Relations Minister, said the change “will benefit employers through greater staff retention and loyalty.”

“Parenting is a shared endeavour and couples want more flexibility when they are adapting to the demands of a new baby.”

“Shared parental leave will let couples choose how to share their childcare responsibilities in whatever way works best for them.”

When men were asked what they thought the main benefits of SPL would be, almost half said it would feel fairer, and 39% said they could let their partner get back to work or progress their career.

How will SPL work?

  • SPL must be taken in weekly blocks. It can be stopped and started, so periods of work can be interspersed with periods of leave for childcare. Each parent notifies their employer of their entitlement and “book” the leave with at least eight weeks’ notice
  • an employee can book more than one period of leave in a single booking notification
  • an employee may submit up to three booking notifications, and more if the employer agrees
  • where requested as discontinuous blocks, the employer may require the employee to take leave in a continuous block, at a date chosen by the employee
  • each parent can use up to 20 SPL “in touch” days to go into work, so could effectively take SPL and work on a part-time basis for a period
  • SPL can be taken at any time in the first year following the child’s birth/placement.

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