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Shared Parental Leave in the UK: Parents unaware of changes and reluctant to take up Government’s offer – Jennifer Liston-Smith, Director of Coaching & Consultancy at My Family Care

Shared parental leave

Jennifer Liston-Smith, Director of Coaching & Consultancy at My Family Care has been one the UK pioneers of maternity coaching supporting leading employers in settings such as global law firms, investment banks, accountancy firms and other sectors since 2005. Her work is covered in the national and industry press as well as frequent conference speaking and writing. She is the mother of two boys aged ten and seven and understands the challenges of a senior role combined with family life. 

Jennifer Liston-Smith
Jennifer Liston-Smith

 “…There are solid plans in place to inform employers but it seems the public wants to know more too…”

In a survey of 1,000 parents for Good Care Guide:

  • 65% of parents unaware of new changes to share parental leave being introduced in April 2015;
  • 84% of parents would not take up the offer of Shared Parental Leave;
  • Only 15% of employers have a clear idea of how they will implement new provision for their staff. Biggest concern for employers is around the amount of internal administrative changes the legislation will create;
  • Despite this, 65% of parents said that they would jump at the chance to have two to five years off work in order to raise their family if it was an option offered by employers.

Need to educate parents-to-be about their options  for Shared Parental Leave

Our research shows that the majority of parents are very unsure about the Shared Parental Leave (SPL) changes, with a large chunk of people not even knowing about them altogether. This highlights a need to educate parents-to-be about their options – choices that they have never had to quite this degree in the past, enabling women to spend more time at work while their partner takes on the childcare role. 

Providing more talent retention choices

Despite these understandable concerns, we have found that the majority of companies we are working with have welcomed the idea of SPL to support their staff and family-friendly policies, and also as providing more talent retention choices for those women who are significant or main bread-winners within families.

Employers being informed, but there is a need for public education

However, it’s important that everyone understands the implications of the new legislation for families and businesses and our research shows there is a clear need for more education by the Government. There are solid plans in place to inform employers but it seems the public wants to know more too; and sooner rather than later. 

To help businesses confused about the changes in SPL, My Family Care, with the support of Hogan Lovells, have created a downloadable Shared Parental Leave: HR Resources Pack providing information and advice to HR departments with questions over what the changes mean to them.

The guide includes:

  • Advice on how companies can get to grips with SPL
  • Bringing SPL to life – a case study with model answers
  • Thoughts from industry experts on the implications of SPL for business and gender equality
  • Access to HR and Diversity webinars

Please note that at 12:30 on Thursday 19th June, 2014, My Family Care will be joined by legal experts and leading employers to present a Webinar for HR and Diversity professionals called Shared Parental Leave: Nine Months and Counting. This webinar is free and you can register here.