In April 2015, Shared Parental Leave was introduced to allow new parents to split up to 52 weeks of shared parental leave between them. Parents would also have the opportunity to take up to 39 weeks of statutory shared parental pay.
Last week, My Family Care, an advisory body who provides businesses with advice on how to be family-friendly, revealed figures which show that only one per cent of fathers have taken up the opportunity to share parental leave. The research also showed that 55 per cent of women would not want to share their maternity leave.
Dr Emma Banister, Senior Lecturer in Consumer Research at Alliance Manchester Business School is the co-leader of the project Making Room for Dads along with Dr Ben Karrane, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Lancaster University. The project has been designed to explore the concept of shared parental leave (SPL) and to understand the experience of families who have decided to embark on SPL.
‘Making Room for Dads’ aims to understand what SPL means for fathers – but the project also looks at why parents decided to take part in the scheme and how parenting roles are divided up in the early stages of a child’s life.
There appear to be a number of theories as to why SPL has not gained popularity within the first year, but according to Dr Banister, some of the reasons appear to be around a lack of clear communication from employer to employee.
Dr Banister said: “Lots of employers seem to have been putting their heads in the sand, just hoping that no one comes forward, so most men have felt like guinea pigs, like the policy is being formed around them.”
She added: “At least one participant has had a comment made to him by a woman at his work: ‘God, I wouldn’t be prepared to give up my maternity leave.’ That positioning is quite interesting.”