Shared Parental Leave enables eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work following the birth of their child or their child being placed with them through adoption. This can involve returning to work for part of the time and then resuming parental leave at a later date.

Shared Parental Leave

Key facts about Shared Parental Leave

  • Provides the potential for greater flexibility
  • It enables Fathers to be more active in the first year of their child’s life than might traditionally have been the case
  • Employees must satisfy the eligibility criteria to qualify
  • It allows the sharing of statutory leave and pay between both qualifying parents

What is the take up?

Despite the idea of Shared Parental Leave sounding great not many employees are taking advantage of this. A recent survey undertaken by the CIPD shows that only 5% of men and 8% of women are opting to take Shared Parental Leave since its introduction in 2015.

Where is it working?

We could take a leaf out of the Scandinavians’ book.  In Scandinavia sharing childcare is much more embedded into the culture and initiatives.  It is like Shared Parental Leave has been around for much longer in Scandinavia and is common practice.

I do think we could learn a thing or two about work life balance and the benefits of sharing childcare between parents by following a similar mantra here in the UK. Hopefully as Shared Parental Leave is better understood it will become better utilized.

I have been supporting a forward thinking nursery recently with flexible working in general. They have a fantastic approach, encouraging wellness, balance and care in their setting and I think it is a great example.

The deputy manager wanted some advice about what her options were as she was keen to share the childcare of her second child with her partner.  We talked through the various requirements to qualify for Shared Parental Leave, which once broken down are simple to follow.

The eligibility criteria can appear overwhelming to employees and this is definitely one thing putting employees off. It really does come down to understanding the process and making it as easy as possible for your employees to digest and understand.

For the up to date eligibility criteria for Shared Parental Leave then follow this link:

https://www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay/eligibility

So how can you support and encourage the relatively new concept of shared parental leave in your nursery?

  1. Understand the process and the benefits

It is so important that whoever is responsible for employee processes in your nursery understands what employees’ are entitled to and the benefits to both the employee and the employer.

  1. Explain the process

Qualifying criteria and the deadlines to apply means that the process can appear more complex than it actually is. Take time to understand the process and ensure that anyone in your setting who could benefit understands what is available to them.

A great way to do this is to have an up to date Shared Parental Leave Policy in place and to also include a section within your Employee Handbook.  Another great way to share knowledge is to select a HR policy each month that you will review and discuss at a team meeting. This will help clarify the details of the process and enable transparency.

  1. Culture

In a largely female dominated sector, it is important to look at different options and approaches to retaining employees and expertise in your setting.  Having a culture that lends itself to work life balance will go a long way to improving morale and stability in your workforce.

  1. Money

A huge turn off for employees is the statutory minimum rate of pay.  With men typically being the largest wage earner this drop in pay simply isn’t an option for many of them and as a result it just isn’t financially viable for them to access Shared Parental Leave.  Employers could be more creative in supporting the uptake of Shared Parental Leave and ultimately the retention of employees.

One way to be creative would be to involve your employees in the management of the Shared Parental scheme. After all they are the ones who will potentially benefit from it so having their engagement in making decisions on how it could be rolled out and encouraged would be a positive move.

Final Word

In a nutshell the concept of shared parental leave is brilliant, however for many the option just isn’t financially viable.  For those employees where taking Shared Parental Leave may be an option, it is hugely important to ensure that they understand the many requirements necessary to qualify for the leave.

In order to retain employees and increase the take up employers may need to get a bit creative and look at increasing the statutory limits.

If you need a current Shared Parental Leave Policy updating or you need one writing for you then The Nursery HR People can do this for you. For more information on our HR Policy service then contact us today, 01509 833121, info@thenurseryhrpeople.co.uk

The Nursery HR People appreciate that keeping up to date with the various employment law changes can be daunting.  We are here to help you with all your needs, questions and concerns. We are experts in managing Family friendly issues for your sector.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we will be happy to assist.

Ruth Lewin

ruth-lewin

Director

The Nursery HR People

www.thenurseryhrpeople.co.uk

01509 833121

ruth@thenurseryhrpeople.co.uk

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