More parents are encouraged to take up the offer of Shared Parental Leave in their baby’s first year, as the government launches a new advertising campaign to raise awareness of the opportunity.
The workplace right for eligible parents allows them to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay after having a baby.
They can take time off separately or they can be at home together for up to 6 months. Around 285,000 couples every year are eligible but take up could be as low as 2% and around half of the general public are unaware that the option exists for parents.
The campaign encourages parents to ‘Share the joy’ and will aim to reach them through digital website advertising, social media, adverts in train stations and on commuter routes. A new website will provide detailed information and guidance.
It launches after the government set out its Good Work Plan to deliver the pledge to not just protect but build on workers’ rights.
This is a vital part of the government’s Industrial Strategy – a long-term plan to build a Britain fit for the future by helping businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK.
Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “Shared Parental Leave gives choice to families. Dads and partners don’t have to miss out on their baby’s first step, word or giggle – they can share the childcare, and share the joy.
“Employers can reap the benefits too. We know that flexibility in work is proven to create happier, more loyal and more productive workforces.
“Providing truly flexible employment options is a key part of the Industrial Strategy, the government’s long-term plan to build a Britain fit for the future by helping businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK.”
Shared Parental Leave was introduced in 2015 to offer choice to eligible parents when it comes to childcare, and allow mothers to return to work sooner if they wish to. The policy benefits employers who can retain talent in their workforce and can contribute to closing their gender pay gap.
Minister for Women Victoria Atkins, said: “Providing parents with choice and flexibility in how they balance childcare responsibilities is a key step towards achieving equality in the workplace and beyond.
“Shared parental leave is good for parents, children and employers. I am very pleased that this campaign will raise awareness of its benefits and, as a result, give more parents the chance to make informed decisions about what’s best for their families.
“This government is determined to tackle and ultimately close the gender pay gap. To do this, we need to support women to fulfil their potential in the workplace – and giving women the choice to share childcare with their partners is crucial to that effort.”
Employment rights have been placed firmly at the centre of government policy, with Greg Clark, Business Secretary, taking responsibility for promoting the delivery of better quality jobs as part of a drive to boost productivity in the modern Industrial Strategy.
As part of the campaign, parents who have taken Shared Parental Leave have shared their experience of how the policy has benefitted their families.
Leila Reyburn and Tom Markwell work for charities Mind and St Mungo’s in London. They had a baby girl, Pearl, in 2016 and decided to take Shared Parental Leave with Leila taking the first 10 months, and Tom taking the final 2 months.
Leila said: “Shared Parental Leave meant that I could say yes when the opportunity came for me to take a promotion at work. I could go back to work early to cover for my line manager while he was on secondment.
But it was also nice that I didn’t have to put Pearl in nursery at the same time and know that she was bonding with her dad. It means she now has a strong connection with us both and is equally attached to us both.”
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