As April arrives, the question is how will shared parental leave work for families?
You may be entitled to Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if:
your baby is due on or after 5 April 2015
you adopt a child on or after 5 April 2015
Until 4 April 2015 fathers may get Additional Paternity Leave and Pay instead.
SPL and ShPP must be taken between the baby’s birth and first birthday (or within 1 year of adoption).
You can start SPL if you’re eligible and you or your partner end maternity or adoption leave or pay (or Maternity Allowance) early. The remaining leave will be available as SPL. The remaining weeks of pay will be available as ShPP.
You can share the leave with your partner if they’re also eligible for SPL, and choose how much of the leave each of you will take. This means you can look at your contractual maternity and paternity rights and see what pattern of leave would be most advantageous to your financially.
SPL also lets you suggest a flexible pattern of leave to your employer. You have the right to take SPL in up to 3 separate blocks but your employer can agree to more. They can also let you split each block into several shorter periods of work and leave.
Check out your eligibility to leave and pay on having a chld.
What I like about the new regulations
There is an implication that fathers should be actively involved in the care of a child in its first year. I am one of those mums who believes that if a man has conceived a child he should be willing to step up and do nappy changes, night feeds and whatever the mum is expected to do.
I always like things that offer flexibility to individual circumstances. I wish more policies offered that as life is made up of individuals and changing situations.
I am pleased to see the regulations apply to employed, self-employed and agency workers.
When finances are tight, it may be best for the higher-earner to return to work quicker whichever parent that is. There may be projects at work that one of the parents particularly wants to be involved in at a given time.
I also like the idea that parents could be on leave together for a period building up that family unit.
Where it works best, parents will understand each other better and that could contribute to a lower risk of relationship breakdown in what is a wonderful but challenging year.
What are my concerns?
There may be a low-take up. That might be because it of no real interest to some families. It might be because some dads just don’t want to step up. It might be that some mums think it is only their role to be heavily involved in the child’s first year. It might be that people do not know about or understand the regulations.
There is also the key point that not all parents will be eligible and if one is and one is not I can see that leading to tension.
As with most family-friendly initiatives some employers will not like the idea and do things to prevent parents taking advantage of the regulations. Bad employers may use bullying tactics to put pressure on parents not to benefit from the regulations. It two employers are involved and both of them are not family-friendly, that could be a very troublesome situation at a time when a family needs all the help it can get.
When my first son was born, his grandparents were very keen to do daily childcare to enable me to take up an exciting new job and for my husband to continue in his work.
When my daughter was born, my parents were not able to offer the same due to their age and infirmity. My husband worked and I stayed at home. I hated not having a work role and was blighted by post-natal depression.. My husband had a very long commute and I felt totally cut off from the world. He was so tired when he got in that he never saw how much I was struggling. Shared parental leave could have helped us so much on this one I think.
When my third child was born, my husband was redundant so he took care of my son while I took on a well-paid job.
This goes to show that circumstances can and do change rapidly as I all three of my children in less than five years.
It would be great if shared parental leave could work well and not just for a few families.
Lots needs to change for it to work at its best including our culture being less sexist when it comes to who should look after children and less discriminatory against men who do want to stay at home with the kids.
We need regulations to insist that employers are family-friendly. You cannot in all conscience say you back hard-working families if you do not put rules in place so that employers have to be family-friendly. Most people have children and a society should do all it can to ensure those children are well cared for and enabled to be great adults in due course.
How will shared parental leave work for families? I guess only time will tell.