· 1 min read · News

Interest in shared parental leave higher than predicted


Employee interest in shared parental leave (SPL) will be much higher than originally forecast by the government, according to research by law firm Linklaters.

Linklaters surveyed 250 recent parents and parents-to-be working in FTSE 100 companies about SPL, which comes into force on 1 December 2014.

Almost two-thirds (63%) said they were either interested or very interested in taking up the new right. This is significantly higher than the government estimate of take-up, which is between 2% and 6%.

The research also found that take-up of SPL will be influenced by whether employers offer enhanced pay; 76% of those interested in SPL said entitlement to additional pay during the leave would be relevant to their decision. 

However, pay is not the only reason for taking or not taking SPL: 62% of both men and women said they had concerns that taking the leave would damage their career prospects.

Fifty per cent of men said they would be inclined not to take leave if other men in their organisation weren’t taking it.

Linklaters senior employment lawyer Simon Kerr-Davis told HR magazine employers need to decide on their policies around areas like pay enhancement.

“The key thing for employers is to settle on their policy, put it in writing so employees can understand it and brief line management,” he said. “One of the problems with this form of leave is its complexity. It’s not a simple task for employers.”

Kerr-Davis added that the “nightmare scenario” of both parents taking several periods of discontinuous leave was “unlikely to happen”. According to the research, both men and women showed a significant preference for taking one period of leave rather than multiple lengths of time.

Enhanced pay

Earlier this week, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg announced leading employers, including PwC and Deloitte, would be offering enhanced paternity packages to all employees who take up shared parental leave.

Commenting on the news, Working Families CEO Sarah Jackson said: “Employers should seriously consider matching contractually enhanced pay and benefits during SPL to those currently available to female employees who are on maternity leave.

“The potential gains, from an engagement point of view, are substantial, and the marginal costs relatively low. For larger employers, [it would be the] equivalent of two or three extra maternity leavers per hundred each year.“