14 February 2018
Government estimates show the proportion of couples eligible to share parental leave who take up the opportunity could be as low as 2%.
Only around 285,000 couples are eligible to access the right in the first place, and it can only be used in the baby’s first year.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) admitted only half of the general population are aware of the law regarding shared parental leave.
Under current parental leave laws, couples can share up to 50 weeks of leave, but only 37 weeks of statutory pay. The legislation has been criticised for applying only when the mother is in work, for offering a statutory minimum pay too low for many to afford, and for only offering leave shared in ‘blocks’ rather than, for instance, both parents to work reduced hours.
Indeed, it was estimated that take up of Shared Parental Leave would be as low as 2% even before the legislation was passed into law.
The government has launched the Share the Joy campaign to raise awareness of shared parental leave among parents as part of its Good Work Plan.