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Shared parental leave – take-up

Shared parental leave (SPL) was introduced in 2015. It allows parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave, with up to 37 weeks paid (subject to eligibility criteria), and they can choose to take the leave in blocks in order to provide greater flexibility.

But, the take-up has been surprisingly low (around 2%).

The system is certainly complex (especially when taking SPL in blocks). While the motives were admirable for introducing a system, it is proving to be a turn-off. And there is also a general lack of awareness among employees about SPL. But, overall, it is financial issues that prevent much of the take-up of SPL. Only 37 of the possible 50 weeks of SPL are currently paid through shared parental pay. That is paid at £145 or 90% of weekly earnings (whichever is lower). In contrast, women on maternity pay get 90% of their weekly earnings for the first six weeks, and then statutory maternity pay for the following 33 weeks (also at £145). Furthermore, while many employers offer enhanced maternity pay schemes, there are very few that offer enhanced SPL schemes. Those that do offer enhanced maternity pay schemes (but not SMP schemes) may find themselves open to indirect discrimination claims (the EAT is considering the point). See [2018] New Law Journal 21 September.

 

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