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AIBU - to ask if you think Shared parental leave is really a viable option?

(12 Posts)
AaoograhaHoa Tue 30-May-17 14:46:22

Saw the below in CIPD publication (have truncated a little as it was Looong smile)

My AIBU is to say I don't think shared parental leave works, and am worried that if my DP were to take advantage of it then he will suffer at work because of it - AIBU?

To my mind - Unless all partners (recognise its not just dads!) use shared parental leave then all this is doing is shifting the current disadvantages some women feel (in terms of reduced career prospects, lower salary compared to peers etc) to the other partner as well.

Here's the piece which got me thinking (so as not to drip feed - I am currently 6mths pregnant so these decisions are looming for us!):

"Fewer than one in 1,000 employees have used shared parental leave: Survey suggests ‘little appetite or knowledge’ among working dads to take advantage of landmark policy

Fewer than one in 1,000 employees have taken up shared parental leave (SPL) since the landmark policy was launched roughly two years ago, new research has found.

The study by solicitors’ firm Milners discovered that just 54 of more than 56,000 people surveyed had taken up SPL since it was launched in April 2015.

“SPL was trumpeted as a family-friendly policy, designed to help working dads improve their work-life balance, spend more time in a ‘hands on’ role raising their family and lift the load from their partners, but our analysis suggests that there is either little appetite for it, little knowledge about it – or both,” said Simon Bass, managing partner of Milners.

“There is also some anecdotal evidence that some working dads fear discrimination, and that their career prospects may suffer if they pursue SPL, and others who are the main breadwinner in the family say it is simply not an affordable option. Both these reasons will give employers and the government important food for thought.”

Ben Black, chief executive of My Family Care, said the low uptake was caused by a combination of male employees’ concerns over how they may be viewed for using SPL, a lack of awareness around the policy, employers’ failure to subsidise SPL in the same way as maternity leave, and some women’s unwillingness to ‘let go’ of their maternity leave.

Black added: “Encouraging SPL take-up is the single best way to stop the maternity transition being a huge career obstacle. Allowing both parents to disconnect from their careers when baby arrives gives everyone the opportunity to share the parental load, bond with baby and take equality to another level. Allowing families to figure out what works best for them leads to employees who feel valued, making them more loyal, engaged and productive...”"

CoxsOrangePippin Tue 30-May-17 14:54:42

It probably does shift the disadvantage around, yes. But I see that as it working, in a way. When I go back to work my partner will take a few months off. I get less career disadvantage than if I took the whole period myself, at the cost of getting less time at home. For him it's the other way round.

JordOfTheManor Tue 30-May-17 14:57:31

Why should a policy that has the potential to create equality not be taken advantage of because things are currently equal? By not taking up the opportunity (assuming both are willing and able) then you perpetuate the bias against women.

In our case, we are taking SPL, split 50/50 between the two of us.
Our thinking is that neither of us wants to take a huge career hit, so it makes more sense to spread the burden. 6 months out, each, will have a relatively minor impact in terms of being 'out of the business' at work compared to 1 person taking a whole year.
It also makes sense for us to spread the financial load.

In terms of the piece you mention, the data it cites is based on a highly flawed methodology (more info here )

Basically, the study surveyed all male employees in various workplaces rather than just recent fathers. So it's no wonder the take-up comes up as low - and I'd take any conclusions / hypotheses based on that study with a large pinch of salt.

JordOfTheManor Tue 30-May-17 14:58:03

Currently unequal, I should say!

DontCallMeBaby Tue 30-May-17 15:07:03

It's a wake-up call, isn't it? Men saying 'I can't take months off work, what would everyone think?' while women wonder what on earth these guys think bosses' and colleagues' attitudes are to maternity leave. Do they think everyone just goes 'aw, lovely' when a woman goes on maternity leave? Or is it just that they don't really think it matters when a woman's career is blighted?

Of course it's money as well. If SPL is only paid at the statutory rate and your partner earns more than you, the family takes a bigger hit - add the societal expectations and it's a big leap for a man to take SPL

Kokusai Tue 30-May-17 15:07:27

Huh? You think the policy is a bad idea because the manz worry about discrimination at work if they take time out to care for their baby? Kinda like, the same discrimination women face??

Hopefully attitudes will change over time and SPL will become the norm.

AGnu Tue 30-May-17 15:09:24

Am I right in thinking this doesn't apply for couples where the one giving birth is a SAHM? If DH was a SAHD while I worked, I'd still get mat leave & in theory we could have months off together as a family. It doesn't work the other way round though, does it? The other partner only gets extra time off if the mother goes back to work, right?

ineedwine99 Tue 30-May-17 15:12:42

Hi, we did shared parental leave and it was great, i took the first 7 months maternity, my husband had his parental leave at the start then 5 weeks at the end of my maternity leave. His boss was fine with it as he flexible when and how long he took. He works in a busy finance team and hasn't suffered any negativity, quite a few men are doing it in our office.

acquiescence Tue 30-May-17 15:12:52

It is new which is why not many people have used it yet.

Of my group of friends I know 3 fathers who have taken the last 3-6 months of leave with the child. They enjoyed it and they have now returned to work, no issues.

DontCallMeBaby Tue 30-May-17 15:13:25

Yeah, you turn mat leave into SPL. You can't do that if the mother isn't eligible for mat leave.

(Or adoption leave - I did some work on this and spent an eternity typing maternity/adoption leave, mother/primary adopter and so on).

acquiescence Tue 30-May-17 15:14:11

agnu parental leave is leave from work to look after a child. If one of the parents stays at home already then it will not apply.

Constantlurker Tue 30-May-17 15:14:31

Jordofthemanor i completely agree. DH and I are planning to do 6 months each. The initial conversation came about mainly because of finances - it's our first baby, I'm the breadwinner in the family and for me to take 1year out would cripple us. But - the more we talk about it the more excited DH is. He genuinely wants to be a stay at home dad and I know he will be amazing at it. He is hugely supportive of my career and the reality is that I also want to go back to work. I love my job.

DH is also really unhappy in his job as its entry level and low paid (following a career change). It just makes so much sense for us as a family and I am so grateful we get to take advantage of SPL.

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