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Has Shared Parental Leave delivered?

New research into the impact of Shared Parental Leave on businesses and their employees has revealed that while just 2% of companies have experienced significant take up, 38% say they have received interest and momentum is definitely building.

A joint study by My Family Care, the company that helps businesses introduce family friendly working practices, and law firm Hogan Lovells revealed that 60% of HR directors had received none to just a few requests to take up Shared Parental Leave. The biggest barrier to change was identified as the cultural perception that an extended period of time off for a father would be frowned upon or career limiting, with 41% saying this was the biggest problem, followed by difficulty in employers communicating the options and the fact that they don’t enhance statutory benefits.

The research, which was undertaken at a Think Tank event held last week, to share employer experiences in SPL so far, also revealed that almost half (43%) are enhancing Shared Parental Leave in line with their existing maternity benefits. One in 10 (12%) said they don’t do so and don’t intend to for the foreseeable future, while a third (33%) said they are considering enhancing benefits once they better understand the business and financial impact of doing so.

Ben Black, Director at My Family Care said: “These results reveal just how effective Shared Parental Leave has been so far and answers the question – has it been the cultural change that people were all clamouring for? The answer is not yet, but the future looks very bright, with many companies enhancing their paternity leave in line with their maternity benefits.

“However, if we are going to reach true gender equality in the workplace, it is fathers in leadership positions that need to be open about balancing their work and family and aren’t afraid to break the mould of their predecessors. The most important revelation to come out of the debate was the need for visible role models; to position fathers who are taking SPL at the moment as a shining example to inspire others and help remove the taboo associated with taking time off to care for your new child.”