Shhhh! When you start a family, you can’t tell many people at first for various reasons. A big one is how work will react and also, how you will respond to questions about time off once the baby is born. And with the new rules around Shared Parental Leave, it seems there’s even more to think about.

So it’s no surprise that for many women, working out when and how to announce your pregnancy at work can be tricky. The government introduced Shared Parental Leave in April 2016 to combat this ‘female’ problem. Its success is due to be measured once it’s reviewed in 2018, but so far, the UK has been slow to adopt the new laws.

What is Shared Parental Leave?

When you have a baby, you must take at least two weeks’ compulsory maternity leave immediately after the birth. In addition, you can have up to 52 weeks off as maternity leave, but how this is paid will depend on current employment and circumstances.

Last year’s new rules mean you can choose to opt for Shared Parental Leave. This involves sharing your baby’s first year with your partner as up to 50 weeks’ Shared Parental Leave (SPL) – with up to 37 weeks’ Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) for you and/or your partner to take.

Sadly, self-employed mums can’t get it, which is probably something the government needs to reconsider given that this earning group is thought to be on the rise.

Sweden leads the pack…again

Many Nordic countries – and in particular, Sweden where ‘men can have it all’ apparently – already have generous parental leave and companies there have come to expect employees to take leave irrespective of gender, and not to penalise workers once it’s time for promotions. However, the UK is feeling the Arctic chill, with many families choosing not to adopt the new changes based on fears about lack of promotion for fathers as a main concern.

The problem is, that until childcare becomes a parental issue, rather than a ‘female’ issue, it’s thought that the gender pay gap will remain for the foreseeable future. In addition, employees in small (and sadly, large ones too) businesses will still worry about their future once they reveal their baby plans. And when it comes to the recruitment process, some businesses will sadly still base hiring decisions on gender rather than ability.

So what is the UK doing well?

A third of the UK’s main breadwinners are now women and we’re betting this is growing as we speak. This is helped by better childcare options like breakfast and after school clubs so that women can take on more hours once their children are in full-time education.

Flexible working jobs rights have also been introduced to help families as their babies become children with homework, after school clubs and all the other fun and games that childhood involves.

Like anything, new ways of working can often be slow to be adopted at first. The most forward-thinking companies stand to benefit by getting in on the act though – flexible working jobs for example, used to be viewed as a massive company perk. But with millennials expecting, rather than hoping for greater flexibility when applying for roles, this is no longer true. It’s one example of how time can be a great game changer.

Shared Parental Leave: a step in the right direction

Let’s hope families don’t have to wait too long before Shared Parental Leave becomes the norm rather than the exception. And if you’re starting a family, don’t be undeterred – half of the UK’s workforce are parents, so, like learning to drive, the chances are your co-workers will have been in the same boat as you and will be highly understanding.

Here at Ten2Two, we find jobs for both dads and mums, so if you’d like greater flexibility in your life to help you balance your family and work commitments, get in touch today.

 

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