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Shared parental leave stigma lessens


Over half (56%) of people say they would consider taking shared parental leave, a figure that rises to 65% among 18- to 24-year-olds, according to Allen & Overy research.

The report highlights changes in attitudes, with only 3% of respondents saying the stigma associated with sharing parental leave would impact their decision. 

The research also found that 61% of men would consider shared parental leave in comparison with 52% of women. 

“Times have changed radically,” said Allen & Overy partner Sarah Henchoz. “It’s no longer presumed it will be the woman left holding the baby, and there’s less stigma when a man chooses to be active in childcare or indeed when a woman decides to go back to work early.” 

Henchoz said businesses will have to consider providing cover not just for women taking maternity leave but for any employee potentially, and that parents taking intermittent periods of absence “may be problematic”. 

Less than a quarter (23%) of respondents said they would not consider shared parental leave. The most common reason was financial implications (49%), which was most important to 25- to 34-year-olds (62%). 

The number of SME businesses offering enhanced pay for maternity and shared parental leaves has dropped to 7%, but figures have risen to 19% among large businesses. The report found that 12% of organisations offer enhanced maternity leave but do not offer enhanced pay for shared parental leave. 

Henchoz said: “Most businesses are trying to do the right thing, but it is a complicated matter balancing affordability, diversity, talent attraction and retention, and work/life balance.” 

“However, that does not change the fact that those only offering enhanced pay for maternity leave might find themselves under pressure from the significant group of employees who may want to take shared parental leave but will find it unaffordable without enhanced pay.”