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Shared parental leave was introduced in 2015 as a way of redressing the balance between maternity and paternity leave. The purpose was to allow mothers to transfer all or part of their maternity leave to the father, allowing them to return to work.
However, since the legislation was introduced, it has faced a number of criticisms. For example, one parent still has to return to work after their statutory leave ends, and it doesn’t fully allow families to bond or help with child care. For mothers, perhaps, who choose to leave work to take sole responsibility, the father is entitled to just two weeks paternity pay, without the option of transferring through shared parental leave.
Some businesses are leading the way, by introducing new schemes into the work place, allowing fathers to take much longer leave when they have children. One story hitting the news recently highlighted the case of an Aviva worker who took six months off after the birth of his son. Not only was this extra time a luxury to the new dad, it was paid time as well.
He was just one example of nearly 500 employees at Aviva who had taken advantage of the policy during the first 10 months.
Whilst this seems revolutionary, and no doubt many employers will be under pressure to follow suit, legislation of this type is still very much in its infancy. O2 and drinks giant, Diageo, are the only others that have gone public with their decision that they will be extending paid paternity leave.
There is absolutely no doubt that there is a greater demand for this kind of legislation, particularly where parents are forced out of a choice and need to return to work. Paid policies will be much more desirable to working parents – and they make up the highest percentage of the workforce. There may also need to be further support to smaller businesses, as they are the ones who are ample contributors to the jobs market, but are also more likely to take more of a financial hit.
If you would like any advice relating to paternity, maternity or shared parental leave policies within your organisation, contact the employment team at Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.