Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave

Big news in our household. Well it is old news to our friends and family, we just haven’t made it fully public online. W is taking the plunge and is taking shared parental leave {I am calling it SPL from now on}. So yes, the picture above, will be common sight over the next couple of weeks. It is rather sad, that in 2018 it is a big deal in British society when a father takes SPL but given that less than 1% of dads in the UK {yes that isn’t a typo….1 bloody percent} take shared parental leave, W electing to take some SPL is a big deal.

Sure all employers are legally required to provide SPL but what makes our position unique is a couple of things. As regular readers know, W works in a law firm. Law firms by their very definition {well almost} are conservative stuffy places full of very serious people. W is pretty lucky that he works at the world’s least stuffy law firm“, they are progressive and very much not a stuffy organisation. The great news for our family is that they have an enhanced SPL policy which has meant it has been a “no brainer” for W to take some SPL and spend quality time with Bump.

 

The Background and Stats

SPL was that policy that Nick Clegg, introduced when he was deputy prime minister. However, sadly, the policy hasn’t been a runaway success.

The issue is….money. I won’t lie, I wouldn’t have bought into W’s SPL if his place of work didn’t have an enhanced SPL policy. The other concern men have is around the impact that having time off may have on their career. Isn’t it sad, that fathers worry having a period of time off work looking after their child may impact their longterm career. We were lucky again, as it was also quite clear that W’s employer were having a real drive on SPL and therefore we didn’t think it would cause an impact on W’s career, in fact, refreshingly, it didn’t even enter our mind that it might.

But what if your partner’s place of work doesn’t offer an enhanced SPL policy? Well firstly, shame on them! This is 2018 not 1983. Sadly if you don’t have the benefit of an enhanced policy then you will be getting £140.98 a week. It is not great is it, especially when you factor into account your own maternity pay. It is no wonder, in places like Sweden or Norway, that the SPL take up is so large {90% of Dad’s apparently!} when Dad’s are offered pretty much full pay.

The good news for a lucky few is that some companies are offering more generous packages to dads who want to take SPL. Sadly the majority of UK businesses are not doing this yet or even offering decent support to working parents despite the best efforts of people like Mother Pukka to raise awareness of things like flexible working. There will need to be a real sea change in attitudes amongst employers for SPL to become the norm like it is in Scandinavia.

 

How Does SPL directly impact me?

Ok, I am having to give up seven weeks of my maternity leave. You see, whatever your partner takes as SPL gets deducted from your mat leave. We did have to compromise, W wanted eight weeks off, I wanted him to have six weeks. We met at seven weeks! The good news is that I don’t have to go back to work when W is off. So we are having W at home for seven weeks starting next week!

I won’t lie I am slightly nervous. I mean he is going to be around all the bloody time from next week! He does seem to think we are basically going to have seven weeks of utter fun and holidays! He will soon realise on day one when he is tackling an overly tired, grumpy and hungry Bump that it isn’t all fun. I have also been telling Bump to ensure he saves up all the stinky poos for when Daddy is off and cleaning his bum! I joke.

It will be lovely to have W around and to be able to see him properly bond with Bump. At the moment, like the vast majority of Dad’s the UK over he sees Bump for a couple of minutes before he heads to work each morning and that is it until the following morning.

W is very much looking forward to it {haha- lets see if he is begging to go back to work after two weeks!}. In all seriousness, there are those who have questioned his decision to take SPL. Things like “if work can do without you for seven weeks, then surely they don’t need you at all and you will be without a job”. Well apart from that being illegal, this is the 21st century people. That sort of thing doesn’t happen these days {or if it does then it needs to be reported!}.  As I mentioned earlier, we are really fortunate that W’s employer is 100% behind his SPL. It has in fact been refreshing to see a global business realise the benefits that SPL can bring.

 

Time for a change in attitude

Quality time with Bump aside, one of the main drivers for W doing SPL is that he wants to change the stigma that exists in relation to SPL. Why should taking SPL impact your career? Why shouldn’t enhanced SPL packages be the norm? What is wrong with a father wanting to spend time with his new family? Why shouldn’t businesses embrace SPL rather than being scared of it? You get the picture.

We aren’t big-headed enough to think that our experience will change businesses attitude to SPL but hopefully, one of you, may read this post and think “you know what, I am going to raise that at an employee town hall meeting“. If we can start the conversation in work places then that is a good thing. To us, SPL only offers benefits for both the employee and the employer.

We will keep you lovely people updated on our SPL journey over the next two months. It is going to be a blast!

Have any of you considered your partner having SPL? Did any of your partners take up SPL? What was the driving force behind your decision? What would make you be more likely to take up the offer in the future? Why do you think SPL take up is so low? As always my lovelies please leave your comments below and don’t forget that you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram

Penny x

Disclosure: Elements of this post were originally posted on the Mummy & Little Me blog as part of the Birth of a Mummy and Mummy & Little Me partnership.

2 Comments

  1. Jeni
    18 January 2018 / 2:23 pm

    I agree spl shouldn’t affect career prospects but history shows maternity leave did and in many cases still does. Taking time off is often negative in many workplaces regardless of what the reason. An attitude shift is needed to help workplaces and employers realise the advantages.

    The other point I know a friend saying he didn’t want to take that time away from his wife. This is often a major reason too even though you are both the parents.

    • Penny
      Author
      19 January 2018 / 2:04 pm

      Hi Jeni,

      That is a good point about taking the time off the mum. For us, the last three months of my maternity leave are unpaid. It therefore made sense for me to give up part of that time and have the advantage of both of us being off together. It has also allowed me to have some “me” time as well!

      Completely agree that attitudes need to change- it is sad that maternity leave, paternity leave and requests for flexible working are viewed poorly by lots of employers.

      Penny x

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