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Some time ago I hosted a twitter Q&A session with Employment Relations Minister Jo Swinson on the subject of shared parental leave. That was back in February 2013. It seems like a lifetime ago, indeed, Swinson herself has become a mother in the meantime. Thankfully the proposals were included in the Children and Families Act and will come into effect from 5 April next year.

In other words, if you’ve just discovered you’re pregnant (or your partner has) then you will be among the first to take advantage of these new rights. Put very simply, every woman will have the right to two weeks maternity leave. Once that has ended, mum and dad will have the right to 50 weeks shared parental leave that they can share between them.

The move should allow dads to become more involved in the early days of their children’s lives. It will also provide much greater flexibility to families so they can organise their family life in a way that suits both parents and children.

Jo Swinson has described the move thus; “Any couples receiving the happy news that they are due to have a baby from 5 April onwards can now start planning ahead safe in the knowledge that they have the option to choose to share the care of their child and time off work in the way that suits them best.

“Introducing shared parental leave is a significant step towards changing workplace culture, making it just as normal for fathers to take on childcare responsibilities as mothers.

“From April next year mums and adopters will have real choice about when they return to work, dads will have more time to bond with their children and employers will benefit from lower staff turnover and having a workforce that is more flexible and motivated.”

The following infographic shows how the system works. If you are one of those who will be eligible to take shared parental leave, congratulations! Wishing you a smooth pregnancy, easy birth and all the best as an expanded family. You can also keep up with developments by following the #sharedparentalleave hash tag on twitter.

shared parental leave, parental leave, maternity leave, paternity leave

16 thoughts on “Shared parental leave – are you eligible?”

  1. Does that father get full pay whilst on leave? It would only work for us if he was still being paid his normal salary. The weekly stat paternity pay would barely cover anything and I don’t earn enough to pay the difference and stat mat pay is pretty low too? I doubt we’d do the split but having him home for 6 weeks instead of two, if financially viable would be much better. I’d likely be back at work by 8 weeks because the job I do, I take my kids with me, but it’s nice to know he could be at home for longer if it was possible.

    1. Thanks for commenting Karen. I’m not going to answer any specific questions like that just in case I get it wrong! If you’re a twitter user, tweet @bisgovuk with the hash tag #sharedparentalleave. The team there should help.

    1. It’s been a while since I’ve had to worry about any of this so I shall defer to your superior knowledge Jules! Thanks for commenting.

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  3. I like the general direction in which the government is moving on parental leave, but there are some aspects of the changes that have not really been adequately addressed. The total number of weeks of parental leave seems to have been in effect reduced from 54 weeks to 52 weeks. When our son was born last year, I was able to take 2 weeks of leave and my wife was able to take 52 weeks (i.e. a full year).

    In addition, I’d like to see more being done to make it easier for dads to attend antenatal classes. In the new scheme, dads will be allowed time off to attend two hospital appointments and this could, for example, mean the 12 and 20 week scans. After attending these events, there wouldn’t be any leave entitlement that covered any further scans or appointments or antenatal classes. In our area, the antenatal classes all take place during working hours, which isn’t really ideal.

    Empowering dads in the weeks and months leading up to birth is really important when it comes to creating the sort of mindset or culture that is going to result in dads taking up some of the parental leave entitlement. As I think you’ve said before yourself, it’s a shame that the new system doesn’t set aside any leave that is specifically and uniquely for dads. This could be a good tool when it comes to encouraging dads to use and become involved parents.

    1. You’re absolutely right Jonathan, the new scheme is great step in the right direction but there is more to be done for dads. I take the view that Rome wasn’t built in a day. for businesses, particularly small enterprises, these changes are enormous. We must let them bed-in first but keep campaigning for further change.

      Think also of our friends over in Ireland. Dads get two weeks of pat leave. Unpaid!

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