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Shared Parental Leave and Parental Leave – what do you think and know? Chance to win £100! NOW CLOSED

(302 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 04-Apr-16 12:24:22

As part of the Mumsnet Family Friendly Programme we'd love to know what you think about these new employee benefits which have been introduced in the last few years.

You can read about them below - please share on this thread your experience of them and your thoughts on them. Have you taken them up? Do you think you would? Have you heard of Parental Leave? How do you think employers feel about them? Has your employer promoted them to you/ employees? Has your partners company promoted them?

All comments welcome!

Shared Parental Leave - this is for new parents and is designed to give greater flexibility around the first year with a new baby
Government info here
ACAS guide here

Parental Leave - this is unpaid leave for parents to take care of a child's welfare - employees are entitled to 18 weeks’ leave for each child and adopted child, up to their 18th birthday with their job protected
Government info here
ACAS guide here

Both are obviously subject to specific terms.

Add your view and you'll be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £100 voucher for the store of their choice.

Click here to learn more about companies who are working to make the UK a more family friendly place

Thanks and good luck
MNHQ

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purplepandas Mon 04-Apr-16 14:44:54

I like the idea of both. It's good to see sharing of parental leave in the first year, times are a changing. I can't comment on what my employer has said about these as I have not seen anything about either specifically. I am way past the first one though but the second one is something I may need one day.

Raeray Mon 04-Apr-16 14:49:02

I work in the NHS, which I feel has fair leave for parents and carers. My boss has given me a day or two off before to look after my grandmother who I help care for, for example when she needed an operation.

With regard to the parental leave I think this is a great scheme, the fact that it can be taken up to the child being 18 is wonderful as I know friends with older children have often had struggles with their children that this leave would have been brilliant for them.

I also like the fact it's parental leave all equal for birth children or adopted children - I like its under one umbrella unlike maternity/adoption leave.

I've don't yet have children but hope to one day, recent cancer mean adoption will be how I have my children so anything that helps along the way is great in my book!

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I'll make sure my friends and colleagues know about it incase they need to use it at any point.

Thurlow Mon 04-Apr-16 15:50:06

I like the idea of both. Obviously - I'd find it strange if someone didn't!

The big barrier is going to be how employers of dad's will treat requests for several months' leave and whether they will view men who do this negatively. I suspect many employers will over the next few years. My partner's employer can be quite old fashioned and when he had to leave the other day to come home and look after our sick DC, he did get a few comments about why I wasn't just at home doing it all hmm (He managed to resist the urge to say "A stay at home wife on the salary you pay me?! grin)

I do know quite a few couples who have misunderstood the rules and made plans on that misunderstanding, and then been rudely surprised when they were finally made aware of their misunderstanding - and then thought it was very unfair. Mainly over believing that both partners would start on Day 1 of maternity leave i.e. that the wife would take weeks 1-30 of her maternity leave package off, but that when the husband took over at week 31, he would be taking over at week 1 of his maternity package, and jumping back up to full pay again.

CopperPan Mon 04-Apr-16 16:05:22

Unpaid leave is useful, but a lot of families won't be able to afford to take it and realistically a lot of employers will look on it negatively no matter what the law says.

Shared parental leave isn't relevant to me at this stage, but I think it wouldn't have been that useful for us as it would have made more financial and practical sense (bf) for me to take it all, I think that would be the case for many families.

asuwere Mon 04-Apr-16 16:07:54

I think both schemes are good. I work for government so they have a very good HR dept who make sure this is dealt with very well in our office.
Like Thurlow, I think the biggest issue is employers and colleagues accepting men using the leave. It is quite sad that childcare is still considered woman's responsibility.

BellaVida Mon 04-Apr-16 16:09:01

I like the idea of legally being allowed to take shared or parental leave, but the reality is that it is not always practical with your personal or job circumstances.
Of course, in an emergency or if back up fails, neither you nor your employer has much of a choice.
In my and DH's experience, if you need to take what an employer considers unnecessary leave, they will let you know about it! It can be detrimental to their view of you as a professional and your career.

TheMshipIsBack Mon 04-Apr-16 16:29:17

I'm currently on maternity leave with my second child and my husband will be taking 5 months of shared leave when I return to work after 7 months. We did roughly the same split for our first child under the old additional parental leave scheme. I'm the higher earner (marginally the first time but significantly more this time) so it made financial sense, but frankly we would have done it regardless of the earning disparity. Our first child is equally parented, to the point where he'll call each of us mum or dad. My husband says it was tough work being home, but the most rewarding thing he's done and he's excited to get to do it again.

We're one of only two couples in our social circle who have done the shared leave option. I got the cold shoulder from my (naice middle class ebf, mostly planning to do the full year and then go very part time) nct group because I didn't hide that I was keen to get back to work and happy to hand over to dad. My husband's employer was supportive but struggled with the paper work. I work for a university, who were great, but even they had trouble with the forms.

Theimpossiblegirl Mon 04-Apr-16 17:05:23

I think anything that gives people more choice and flexibilty is a good thing.
Most people I know can't afford unpaid leave, however, but it's reassuring as a fall back plan.

Byrdie Mon 04-Apr-16 17:40:41

While i can understand why this is a good idea and it gives people choice, it personally wouldn't have had any impact on our home situation as my husbands company just wouldn't do it. He wouldn't consider it and if I'm honest, neither would I. But that's just us - i think more choice can only be a good thing.

AndNowItsSeven Mon 04-Apr-16 17:45:06

Low income families who are in receipt of CTC or a HB can claim
Income support during parental leave. Also any working tax credit will still be paid ( if it four weeks or less in one go) .

Marmelised Mon 04-Apr-16 17:55:46

If this had been available when I had my babies I know what would have happened.

My husband would have insisted I took all the leave as it was more important for the mother to be with her very young children.

Everyone would have said what a great guy he was, sacrificing his chance of paternal leave to allow me more. I would have been massively conflicted, desperate to get back to work, enduring patronising comment from male colleagues about how of course your attitude to work changes when you have a baby, watching my promotion chances dwindling but having to be grateful because wasn't I lucky to be given this chance. What sort of mother doesn't want to spend more time with her baby?

It was the society pressure of having to be grateful that upset me most. My husband wouldn't want to take time off but would dress it up as concern for me even convincing himself. My babies are adult now but I don't think that much has changed.

It's great that parental leave is now a right. It's definitelyly progress but let's not kid ourselves that it will be an unmixed blessing to all mothers. As Mship said up thread, people still judge new mothers who want to work..

Hopezibah Mon 04-Apr-16 18:15:44

I'm in favour of any ideas that give more options and flexibility in returning to the workplace. It is hard enough already to get back to work after having a baby and i know the lack of flexibility from my employer made it impossible for me to go back. With new initiatives like both of these, it will hopefully make a difference to many and if nothing else will help raise awareness amongst employers and get those conversations going about how people can get back into the workplace after having children and employers not losing those valuable skills.

HeadTilt Mon 04-Apr-16 19:37:09

I've heard of both.

I've used unpaid parental leave in the past and expect to do so in the future. I think the restrictions on unpaid leave prevent it being too onerous on employers. Certainly my manager is fine about me taking it, though apparently it is rarely taken due to the "unpaid" element!

Shared (postnatal) parental leave seems a good idea. I'm pregnant but won't be sharing the leave as my partner is self employed. I think the leave would be more helpful if it could be used more flexibly eg one parent works 2 days per week and one works three. I wouldn't want to go back early to let my partner have time at home, also surely more flexibility would be easier to accommodate than the all is nothing nature of leave now.

Overall both types of leave are a good thing.

araminem Mon 04-Apr-16 20:44:22

In Denmark the possibility that Headtilt is asking about was exactly the option we went for. My DH and I shared the last 3 months of parental leave with one of us working 2 days and the other 3 days. It is a very uncommon option (have not heard of others who used this pattern and only found about it by trawling through the guidance booklet) but it worked brilliantly for us. Made my return to work so much less stressful, my work had me back at work earlier and my DH's work never had him away completely. We were all happy. So of course i agree with shared parental leave! This shared option does not seem to be possible in the UK.

Unpaid parental leave would also be a great addition!

YorkshireTeaDrinker Mon 04-Apr-16 20:46:43

I think the legal entitlement is just the beginning. It takes time for society and workplaces to catch up. Shared parental leave wasn't available when I had DD (and secondary infertility means we probably won't get into a position to have a baby under the new regulations). Even if a miracle occurs and we do manage to have a second DC, I can't see us taking up shared parental leave.

My DH works for a company that is v family friendly on paper (large manufacturing co) but, when I raised the posibility of us both going down to 4 days a week when I went back to work, he replied that only people in jobs that don't matter are allowed to work part time. And part-timers don't get promoted.

stealthbanana Mon 04-Apr-16 20:49:26

I don't have children but run a business that employs around 1000 people in the UK. I have used the introduction of SPL as a staging post to review all our offerings and in particular we are now offering enhanced paternity leave (8 weeks at 90% pay) to try to encourage new fathers to take up the SPL.

The parental leave I must admit I'm fuzzier on, I don't understand how it is tracked across the 18 years. Does anyone know that?

isitginoclock Mon 04-Apr-16 21:22:54

They're a step in the right direction. IMO there's still too much tutting and eye rolling in the office when mums (and dads) take time off for child related issues. The attitude needs to change for parents to feel like they can take it up

Nigglenaggle Mon 04-Apr-16 21:26:46

Shared parental leave will bring us as close as we can get (before the artificial womb ^^) to full equality between men and women. As it becomes more common for men to take it, it will gradually erode the idea that it's more of a risk for a small business to take on a woman than a man.

Parental leave is also a good idea - couldn't have it as anything but unpaid as otherwise too many people would take the piss. This way it should ensure it's saved for genuine need.

PaulineFowlersGrowler Mon 04-Apr-16 21:41:51

I've heard of both, and think they are great in theory but I know lots of people will be treated unfairly by their employers if they chose to take advantage of it. We have a disabled child but my partners employer still treats him with disdain if he has to take time off for childcare issues, and has implied it will effect his chances of a promotion (partner works for a very large multinational company as well)

AnnieWall27 Mon 04-Apr-16 22:04:35

My husband and i have shared parental leave with both our oldest babies. When our, now 4 yr old, was born he took 3 weeks paternity leave then at six months i went back to work full time and my husband took the other 6 months paternity leave. We did the same with baby number two. My husband wanted to spend time with the babies and why shouldn't he get the same amount of time as the mum? The only difficulty was that i was still BF when i returned to work both times so had to express more when i got home.

ButterflyOfFreedom Mon 04-Apr-16 22:08:34

I've heard of both and think they are a good idea - anything that gives people more choice & flexibility in terms of work / child care / work life balance.
I guess 'bringing up baby' is still seen pretty much as the mothers role (big generalisation I know) so I imagine there is still stigma around men taking on the majority of child care and would not seem to be the norm which is a shame.

DillieDoily Mon 04-Apr-16 22:32:14

I think both are a great idea but I've never used either.

DH earns so much more than me that it wouldn't make financial sense for him to share my maternity leave.

I may well use parental leave in the future to help cover some school holidays etc

YogaPants Tue 05-Apr-16 08:55:25

I'm 7 months pregnant and plan to stay at home the first 7 months then my husband will take the next five months off as shared parental leave. We both work for large corporations (1 public sector, 1 private sector) and found our HR departments accommodation of our requests.

In our case, there were a few considerations that made us go for this option.

1) It would be possible to survive on my salary alone but not my husbands so the choice is more between me going back to work and putting DC in childcare earlier than 1 year or dh taking spl.

2) It felt like it sets up the basis for more equal parenting. We both had fathers actively involved in our childcare as well as having professional jobs and working mothers so maybe we are prepared culturally for the shift more than others.

3) I think I might go a bit bananas at home for a whole year. This remains to be tested. We are also considering both requesting 1 day working from home each week once we are both back so we have the chance to be around the house more and spend less time commuting than we currently do now.

trilbydoll Tue 05-Apr-16 09:14:37

The only problem for us with shared parental leave is by the time it came in, I was p/t which doesn't cover the bills. Had we got ourselves organised and thought about it we could have saved some money. DH couldn't face the hassle of taking a chunk of time though, he works for a very small company and sorting out cover would have been such a nightmare it wasn't worth it for a couple of months leave.

Parental leave is useful but I'm one of those people who struggle to use their holiday because it's always so busy, I can just imagine my boss' reaction to me asking for Aug off! It's probably easier for big employers to move people around and cover extended absences.

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