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To think it's sad that take-up of Shared Parental Leave is just 2 per cent?

(178 Posts)
AHedgehogCanNeverBeBuggered Mon 12-Feb-18 15:58:30

DH and I are sharing parental leave between us, 9 months for me and 3 months for him. Whenever he tells anyone the response has been universally positive, generally praising him for doing this. When I've told other women they've often reacted with shock, saying they'd never give up some of 'their' leave to their DH/DP. We know another couple who have had huge rows over this - they'd initially planned to share leave 9/3 like us but at 6 months the DW backed out and said she was keeping it all to herself.

I think if women are ever going to achieve equality in the workplace then more men should be encouraged to take up this scheme, but what if women don't want them to? I feel very strongly that a man should be entitled to time off to bond with his child, but our friends' situation has made me wonder whether it's right to allow the mother to make the decision unilaterally (although as she has to carry the child and give birth it kind of makes sense to have first dibs, although fathers do seem to be pushed out here).

Thoughts? Should we be encouraging more men to take this up or something different?

PlanNumber Mon 12-Feb-18 16:06:26

I think what you're being told by people you know is very common. Not in all cases of course but I know several men who would have liked to have some time "off" but their wives weren't at all keen to go back to work.

HollyBayTree Mon 12-Feb-18 16:07:36

Although it's called 'parental leave' , maternity leave is also important for the woman to allow her body to recover. You can get as right on politically correct as you like but until a bloke has had to squeeze a bowling ball down a smartie tub, had a midwife with hands like two serrano hams ferreting around inside her, and split to buggery, then I think Dad can take a back seat until Mum has stoped bleeding, lactating, stress incontinence and hormones have settled back down.

Does Dad get the level of pay that maternity leave incurrs? I got 100% of my salary for 6 weeks, 90% of my salary for another 6 weeks, then 50% for the next 3 months, then SSP rates for the next 3 months.

Finances will always be the driving force. Who could afford that drop in salary?

What is shared parental leave?

It allows parents to share 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay after they have a baby
SPL is paid at £140.98 per week or 90% of your average earnings, whichever is lower

shouldaknownbetter Mon 12-Feb-18 16:12:37

I work in HR and whilst I have dealt with many applications for maternity leave, guess how many applications for parental leave I've dealt with since it started?

That's right, 0.

It doesn't help that men can feel very excluded from the social world of being a stay at home parent which is probably 95% mums in the first year. What man is going to go to a group called 'bumps and babies' for example?

So until we start making men feel more welcome in the SAHP world, they aren't likely to start taking shared parental leave in droves.

VladmirsPoutine Mon 12-Feb-18 16:13:16

This is all well and good but have you looked at underlying factors? In almost all cases it is the man who is higher earning and therefore can't by virtue of needing to bring in a salary take is 'entitled' time off. It's hard enough as it is to just stroll back into your job following mat leave. Why should the entire family risk that just to appear to be 'modern'.

All that said, I think women would be well encouraged to keep their foot in the door and maintain financial independence regardless. Equality will not be won because you shared leave with your H - it will be won when women look out for themselves first.

1stcrazylady Mon 12-Feb-18 16:13:54

Yes I agree with you, if women want equality in the workplace they need to share the entitlement between them and their husbands. However if they don't want to then that's ok isn't it?
I think the important point is that the scheme is available and it's a very important starting point, it may take some time for many people to actually fully take advantage of it because the only option for a long time was women taking the leave and there was no option to share it with their husbands.
I hope that more people use it especially if both parents have good careers and can share the work/parenting thing equally between them, but it is a choice at the end of the day, for me personally I am not career minded a jobs a job and I personally would rather be the one doing the baby thing etc, my husband is a natural grafter in the workplace and can graft like a don't know what and it's a balance that works well, but the options their if in the future we have more kids and our preference changes. Which is nice to know.

Babycham1979 Mon 12-Feb-18 16:14:00

Until men and women are equally likely to take time off to care for their kids, mothers and fathers will never have professional parity. The 'gender wage gap' is actually a maternal pay gap.

PlanNumber Mon 12-Feb-18 16:16:42

I think you;re right Babycham but is that because women are forced or expected to stay at home or is it because they want to? I know I would have resented DH terribly if he'd got to stay at home on "maternity" leave while I had to go to work.

OutyMcOutface Mon 12-Feb-18 16:20:16

Just want to say that I agree with you OP. We haveyshared parental leave for financial reasons. My DH often feels like he's missed out and I feel bad for him but it was what he signed up for when he married someone much younger-we both recognise that. It doesn't mean that I don't feel guilty though.

emma6776 Mon 12-Feb-18 16:25:04

The take up of SPL in my workplace is very low. We pay a very high rate of maternity (& paternity leave), however, as SPL also relies on reaching an agreement with the partners employers, it often comes down to finances, as the other employer is rarely as generous and the mum can’t afford to miss out. We offer 9 months on 100% pay for maternity x

thecatsthecats Mon 12-Feb-18 16:27:33

I feel a lot more comfortable with the prospect of parenthood knowing SPL is there.

My fiance and I have agreed that he will take at least 18 weeks (which he'll get at full pay). It's not just about our careers. I don't want to be the default parent. I want him to be as fully confident and in control with any children we have as I will be, and I think that equal time in sole charge and understanding the daily slog is the only way to achieve this.

grasspigeons Mon 12-Feb-18 16:28:31

I think its right and just that parental leave can be shared as families need to work out best what is suitable for them financially and emotionally.

However, I feel very strongly that women shouldn't feel rushed or forced back into work too quickly for the sake of letting Dad have a go. Whilst some pregnancies and births go very well and have a quick recovery other people take a good 9 months adjusting back again, especially if someone has breastfed. Part of maternity leave has to be about pregnancy, birth and sometimes breastfeeding.

I actually think the whole emphases on sharing maternity leave and all women's career problems will go away isn't quite right. I walked back after my maternity leave into the same job on the same pay - its actually what happens next that dictates how a career goes. Do you return part time, do you start leaving at exactly 5 everyday to pick up from nursery, do you have several children so take lots of maternity leaves. I think to get equality in the workplace the focus needs to be on what happens for the next 10-15 and encouraging more men to take the 'daddy track'

QueenAravisOfArchenland Mon 12-Feb-18 16:29:08

I'm surprised that it's so low. 50% of our antenatal group 3 years ago took shared leave, with dads spending 2-3 months at home when each of us went back to work. We are doing a 9/3 split when I start my leave shortly again, although we're doing it simultaneously rather than sequentially because DH is entitled to several months' full pay but only if he takes it right after the birth. If anything this maximises our income since if I took a full year it would be partially completely unpaid. Most organisations that offer enhanced pay offer it equally to whichever side of the couple is taking leave, so there must be plenty of dads who could take more time without taking an income hit if they did the same as us.

I also don't want a full 12 months at home, that's too long for me, and I find it hard to believe I'm alone in that. It would have been even better if DH could have taken over when I went back and been able to have some 1:1 time with an older more responsive baby but it's true that, as our higher earner, we can't afford for him to be on SMP (or nothing).

Oly5 Mon 12-Feb-18 16:30:01

I agree with you! Sadly my DH earns four times what I do and we couldn’t afford for him to take leave

newyearsameme80 Mon 12-Feb-18 16:30:30

I would have hated it, I wanted the year off with both my dc. However my dh then worked flexibly after I returned, so I was full time and him part time. When my babies were 9 months I was still feeding them several times a night, no way was I ready to be back at work and have someone who got a full night sleep stay at home!

JacquesHammer Mon 12-Feb-18 16:30:34

It is never going to be a policy that works for all families. When we had our DD, I was actually the slightly higher earner, however in OH's line of work he simply couldn't take lengthy periods away.

With hindsight it was the correct decision for us, I enjoyed my time off work, it allowed ex-H to build his career and I retrained.

It should always be on offer though.

hotelduvin Mon 12-Feb-18 16:31:06

It makes me very sad that the take up is so low.

I'm about to start my mat leave (yay) and I am sharing some of that time with my husband. He will take 3 weeks paid paternity from his workplace, 8 weeks of SPL (topped up by his generous employer) concurrently with me, and then he will also take 3 months parental (unpaid) when I head back to work when the baby is 9 months old.

I think its great for men to take some of the hit on their career, and to allow the woman to go back to work slightly earlier than they would have already.

My HR department had only done 2 previous SPL requests and my situation was a learning experience for them. Very sad that so few others had taken that opportunity up.

Unsurenow Mon 12-Feb-18 16:31:47

Shared parental pay needs to become take it or leave it and much much higher. Massive policy debate happening right now and some excellent projects taking off.

gillybeanz Mon 12-Feb-18 16:32:24

I do think the woman should get to choose, I thought I'd love going back to work after ds1 but never did, I hated the thought.
So to make a woman give up months of her maternity leave seems wrong, but maybe she should have said she wasn't sure in the first place and not build her partners hopes up.

I'm pretty sure that most of the time the men don't want to take any leave and this is what needs to be addressed if the woman wants to get back to work straight away so that her career doesn't suffer.
We need to choose men that will support our decisions foremost, giving us choice over what we do.
It's about time mens choices weren't the holy grail.

pitterpatterrain Mon 12-Feb-18 16:33:09

We did SPL, for us it was a bonus as it meant instead of me returning at 8 months straight in, my DH could take 2 months on top and it eased my return to work and got him more in the DC-zone, which is easy to leave when one of you is at home with them

Wish it was available first time around

My DH found his anticipation of the impact on him / his career / perceptions was much lower than in practice - 2 months really isn't a long time in the scheme of things

hotelduvin Mon 12-Feb-18 16:33:57

Oh and yes, i think it's great that the dads spend time doing the crappy day to day baby stuff like constant feeding, cleaning, house admin that would usually default to the mum! It will help him to understand what a day in the life of a mum is like and help him to bond with the bub.

AmberTopaz Mon 12-Feb-18 16:34:29

YANBU. It's disappointing that the take-up is so low and I hope things improve over time.

Having said that, although it wasn't around as an option when I had my first baby, I don't think we'd have done this. The reason being that I became a SAHM for a few years (I'm back at work now) so it would have made no sense for me to go back to work for (say) three months and then leave.

RadioGaGoo Mon 12-Feb-18 16:35:45

My husband and I shared my parental leave with us having the time off together. He took six weeks altogether, two when LO was three months, another two at six months and the last two at nine months. Was a bit of a headache for his HR department!

hushnowthanks Mon 12-Feb-18 16:36:01

What @vladmirspoutine said, exactly that!

My weekly take home pay is just 20% of my husbands weekly earnings. How on earth we’d survive without his wage for 3 months after living on 9 months of SMP i’ll never know. SPL is a lovely idea - in an ideal world where women and men earn as equals. Sadly, we all know that’s not the case for most of us on here.

Thelampshadelady Mon 12-Feb-18 16:36:49

We simply couldn’t afford for dh to be away from work for any longer than the 2 weeks paternity leave.
I’m going back to work after 3 months (self employed) so baby is going to grandparents in the week and will be with dh every Saturday whilst I work.

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