Take up of Shared Parental Leave is increasing

Researchers at the University of Birmingham have found out individuals claimants for Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) the statutory paid part of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) has increased by 73% between 2015/16 and 2018/2019.

The data demonstrates that the take up of ShPP has increased to 10,700 in the financial year 2018/19.

SPL is a policy aimed at improving gender equality in the workplace by providing parents the opportunity to share caring duties within the first year after birth or adoption. Many parents in the United Kingdom are eligible to take SPL, but most still do not take it due to a lack of awareness of the numerous benefits for their family and their child.

SPL is an important tool for tackling the gender pay gap which we know is partly down to the motherhood penalty women face after having/adopting their first child and taking maternity leave. Increased uptake of SPL and involvement of fathers in caring in the first year can also have significant positive impacts on child development, child/father bonding, paternal welfare and parental mental health. By driving uptake of SPL, fathers can experience the multiple rewards of being actively involved in caring for their child in the first year and support their partners to return to work should they wish to do so.

This research follows on from the research conducted by Dr Holly Birkett and Dr Sarah Forbes (Co-Directors of the Equal Parenting Project) at the University of Birmingham in May 2019 which looked to understand how to increase the usage of SPL in the first year after the birth or adoption of their child.

Dr Holly Birkett says: “The growing number of parents using Shared Parental Leave has been steadily increasing since its introduction due to the flexibility of the policy and the ability for fathers to take leave throughout the 1st year. Take up is likely to continue to go up as new parents increasingly know someone that has taken the policy and organisations and families become more aware of the benefits of fathers taking SPL in relation to child development, family bonding and Gender Pay Gap reporting”.

Dr Sarah Forbes said: “Our research has shown that in the past workplace culture and a lack of knowledge amongst managers and HR personnel has been stifling the growth in uptake of SPL but as organisations and parents become more aware of the policy take up increases. More can be done by organisations to allay fathers concerns that taking SPL could impact on their career. It is important that parents have a conversation about caring and SPL. Many may be surprised that their partner would like them to take more time to care for their child after birth or adoption”

This research is part of a larger study currently being undertaken as part of the Equal Parenting Project at the Birmingham Business School. The project involves multiple streams of work to understand and help the UK break down barriers to equal parenting and give all parents the opportunity to be actively involved in caring for their children.

Important information when interpreting the data

  • The data disclosed within the Freedom of Information request is based on claiming of ShPP only.
  • The figures for the total number of claimants of ShPP does not reflect all those using Shared Parental Leave as it does not include those parents that only used unpaid Shared Parental Leave towards the end of the first year, therefore the figures likely considerably underestimate the actual usage of all SPL.
  • These figure excludes companies who did not claim the statutory ShPP back from government
  • Many parents are not eligible to take SPL, for example, the self-employed.
  • No data is available to show the usage of unpaid Shared Parental Leave, which can be up to 13 weeks.
  • The numbers were generated as part of a Freedom of Information request. The figures have been rounded to the nearest hundred.

Ends:

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.
  • Birmingham Business School delivers world-class research and teaching that provides the insight, ambition and skills to shape advanced and sustainable business strategies. The School’s vision is to promote curiosity and thought leadership for responsible business.

About the authors:

  • Dr Holly Birkett is a lecturer at Birmingham Business School. She is the Co-director of the Work Inclusivity Research Centre and an Associate member of the Centre for Responsible Business. Holly’s research focuses on work inclusivity and careers.
  • Dr Sarah Forbes is a lecturer at Birmingham Business School. She is a member of the Responsible Marketing group, Work Inclusivity Research Centre and an Associate of the Centre for Responsible Business. Sarah’s research focuses on encouraging voluntary behavioural change and survey measurement.

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