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Equalities and Rights Equalities and Rights

Improve take-up of shared parental leave

Last updated: 12:38pm 21 March 2019

We will take steps to improve take-up of shared parental leave…

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.56

Our verdict

Parents in the UK can share leave following the birth or adoption of their child. Up to 50 weeks of leave (37 weeks of which is paid) can be shared by parents if they meet certain eligibility criteriaAccording to the government, around 285,000 couples every year qualify for Shared Parental Leave (SPL), but take-up could be as low as 2%.

This policy is a promise to take action to raise the level of take-up of SPL. That means we’re looking for evidence of improved take-up.

So what has the government done? The £1.5 million Share the joy campaign, launched in February 2018, aims to raise awareness about the rights of new parents and encourage more of them to take up the offer of SPL.

It’s worth noting that some family-focused charities feel this is not enough and make the point that the best way to increase shared parenting in the early years would be to “consider also introducing a properly paid, standalone period of extended paternity leave for fathers”. Also, a report by the Women and Equalities Committee in March 2018 recommended investigating a policy of 12 weeks’ paid paternity leave and pay to replace shared parental leave.

Whether or not the government’s campaign proves effective remains to be seen. We’ll be looking out for numbers that tell us whether more parents are using shared parental leave, but for now we’re marking this as ‘in progress’. Follow this policy to keep up with the latest statistics.

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