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Employers must do more to support working parents

CIPD new research on the demands facing the UK’s working parents found that, on average, just 5% of new fathers and 8% of new mothers have opted for Shared Parental Leave (SPL) since its introduction in April 2015. This low take-up of SPL, coupled with the lack of affordable childcare options for parents with 0-2 year-olds, are both major problems that need to be addressed to support working parents more effectively.shared-parental-leave

Shared Parental Leave – an Overview

An employee may be able to get Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if they are having a baby or adopting a child.

If they are eligible for SPL they can use it to take leave in blocks separated by periods of work, instead of taking it all in one go.

To start SPL or ShPP the mother must end her maternity leave (for SPL) or her Maternity Allowance or maternity pay (for ShPP). If she doesn’t get maternity leave (but she ends her Maternity Allowance or pay early) her partner might still get SPL.

If they are adopting then they or their partner must end any adoption leave or adoption pay early instead.

If they are eligible they can take:
the remaining leave as SPL (52 weeks minus any weeks of maternity or adoption leave)
the remaining pay as ShPP (39 weeks minus any weeks of maternity pay, maternity allowance or adoption pay)

If neither of them is entitled to maternity leave or adoption leave then SPL will be 52 weeks minus any weeks of maternity pay, Maternity Allowance or adoption pay.

An employee can share SPL and ShPP between both parents if they are both eligible.

A mother and her partner are both eligible for SPL and ShPP. The mother ends her maternity leave and pay after 12 weeks, leaving 40 weeks available for SPL and 27 weeks available for ShPP. The parents can choose how to split this.

SPL and ShPP must be taken between the baby’s birth and first birthday (or within one year of adoption).

The CIPD is calling on the Government to develop a national childcare strategy in collaboration with employers, so that parents with younger children have better opportunities to return to work after having a baby.

CIPD research also highlighted the less well-recognised, but rapidly growing need to support workers with eldercare responsibilities. Offering working carers flexibility in their working hours is key to enabling them to reconcile the demands of their jobs with those of their caring role, but CIPD research reveals that only 30% of employers are proactively promoting flexible working options.

Our recent blog “Who cares about working Carers” addresses this very issue.

If you would like more information on this subject or any other HR issue please contact us.