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Shared parental leave disappointment

(71 Posts)
Benzalkonium Tue 22-Dec-15 01:28:51

Hi, just posting to see if anyone has experience of this and can tell me if it sounds righ or wrong, (and also to whine a bit)

We were hoping it might be possible for my partner to take the last few weeks of my maternity leave as shared parental leave. It looked like his employer offered a good deal for dads in the policy: 14 weeks on full pay. Hr have just told us that the full pay offer only applies to the first 14 weeks of my maternity leave.
We can't see where it says this in the policy.
What are other peoples experiences?

It's so unrealistic to think that I am going to offer my partner the first 14 weeks of my maternity leave! Why can't he have the last few weeks, when baby doesn't need my physical presence so much?

So disappointed. sad

EasterRobin Tue 22-Dec-15 05:14:28

My DH took the last few months of my maternity leave allocation as shared parental leave. His employer has a far more generous maternity leave policy than mine, but as in your own experience, this generosity applies only to the period following the birth and not from the start of his leave. As you say, the first part of the leave period is better suited to the mum to allow for recovery and breast-feeding, so we have not benefitted at all from his employer's better policy. We were also very disappointed.

XingXingFox Tue 22-Dec-15 05:50:29

Same here, payment only applies to first 26 weeks but actually we're doing it anyway as have saved enough (I don't get paid for the last half either). I think it usually is exactly what is offered to women, so some part of the first half is paid only.

Tangoandcreditcards Tue 22-Dec-15 06:04:50

Really interested in this.

I helped write my employer's SPL policy (and am going to move got mat leave to SPL imminently myself).

Like your situation, it mirrors the maternity policy so (of the 1 year leave) there's an early enhancement, dropping to statutory and then to unpaid for final weeks. This pattern works against total leave taken regardless of which parent is on leave - the logic being that its shared leave, not an additional period of leave for fathers/partners. (Who at my employer get 2 weeks paid paternity leave on top)

I can understand being disappointed if the policy is unclear or badly written but I wouldn't expect additional pay on top of my maternity package. Surely you won't be paid for the last 13 weeks of leave either?

It's all quite new and (unnecessarily) complicated at the moment, this sort of feedback should go back to employers and policy makers so it actually works, because there's obviously little or no financial incentive to actually share the leave in these cases.

SaltySeaBird Tue 22-Dec-15 06:13:23

I'm more dissapointed. I was going to take 6 weeks (SMP only so 90%) and DH was going to take 4 month.

His company offer women 6 months full pay.

However, as a man he only gets the same as SMP - no enhancement at all, and if we do that, I lose the 90% for 6 weeks too.

I really don't want to take maternity leave - he really wants to take paternity leave but we can't afford to. I'm going to be stuck taking time off as childcare for two is so expensive. I will lose my job as a result (whether that is legal or not).

SaltySeaBird Tue 22-Dec-15 06:15:12

We expected I could take the 6 weeks at 90% and then he could take the four months on full pay (women being entitled to six months, but we thought he could get 6 months minus six weeks).

Bearsinmotion Tue 22-Dec-15 06:27:09

I would have expected it to work the way OP describes it surely? If the mother wouldn't be paid for that period neither would the father (assuming both at the same company).

In Salty's case though, I think that is wrong, doesn't that count as discrimination?

Incidentally what happens if the mother is a freelancer or not working? Can the father take the full leave allowance?

Tangoandcreditcards Tue 22-Dec-15 06:28:08

salty - that IS disappointing. And sounds like a crap policy from his employer, that complies with the "letter of the law" but not the spirit. I strongly believe that employers have a responsibility to make the mat leave/shared leave policies equal/equivalent or it's not going to change anything. How big is his company, is he able to give that feedback to HR/the board?

However, i don't think that SPL spanning 2 employers should entitle couples to 2 periods of enhanced pay.

Tangoandcreditcards Tue 22-Dec-15 06:33:33

bears - everything bar the first 2 weeks, I think. However it depends on how much the freelancer earns and how regularly (there's a calculator on the HMRC site).

Tangoandcreditcards Tue 22-Dec-15 06:35:19

Sorry - that's just if the mother is self-employed. If they aren't earning the couple don't qualify for SPL. (They'll get mat allowance instead I think)

confusedandemployed Tue 22-Dec-15 06:36:26

OP's husbands employer is going above and beyond the statutory amount they are obligated to pay.

I also can't see why it should be enhanced beyond the first part of the mat leave. It'd just be so expensive for companies to do that.

cloudjumper Tue 22-Dec-15 06:46:47

But I thought that SPL applies for the whole of the 52 weeks after the child is born?
We're doing this - I get 8 weeks enhanced pay (ie. full salary) from my company, DH' company offers 20 weeks full pay for its female staff, so this is what DH is entitled to. He can take SPL at any point within a year after the birth, even in weekly blocks, if he wanted to.
Mind you, he is the first in his company to take SPL, and they are very keen to be seen supportive. It took a long time and a lot of HR help to set everything up.
As I have to take 2 weeks leave after birth and have then decided to take all of the remaining 6 weeks I am entitled to at full pay, DH can effectively take 14/20 weeks paid that he is entitled to. I will drop to stat pay and then no pay, stay at home until September, then go back to work and DH takes over.

It's such a shame that companies aren't more forthcoming to implement and support SPL, it could make such a difference! Would you DH's company be willing to re-think, OP?

ftmsoon Tue 22-Dec-15 07:00:48

We shared my maternity leave, DH took the last 3 months unpaid after I had 9months of decreasing pay. We wouldn't have expected him to be paid, as I had taken all the pay.

eurochick Tue 22-Dec-15 07:42:40

We shared leave. My husband only got smp when he took one at 5.5 months.

Boleh Tue 22-Dec-15 08:02:03

My employer has made it totally equal, sadly though because they employ more men than women, presumably to make it affordable they've done this by slashing our previously brilliant maternity terms! It used to be 6 months full pay and 6 months half pay for the woman, 2 weeks paid for the man and the company would consider requests for unpaid leave career break type things. Now it's 6 months full pay for either (but not both - if I take 4 months he'd get another 2 for example) then the rest unpaid. So women have lost 6 months leave paid at half pay sad
I understand why they've done it but previously I'd always intended (since I joined years ago) that I could stay at home for a year if we had a baby. Now I think I'd have to take the paid 6 months if I had a baby and he'd maybe take a couple of months unpaid after that (he earns less) but we really can't afford for one or other of us to have 6 months entirely unpaid so they'll have to be in nursery from younger than I'd have hoped.
I'm a bit gutted as it was one of my reasons for staying with this employer previously and for moving back to the UK (I stupidly didn't check for changes before returning).

chanie44 Tue 22-Dec-15 08:07:25

I work in HR and so manage this for my organisation. I'm surprised about the misconception the shared parental leave has created.

I tell staff that shared parental leave is about 'letting you split the cake you have, not giving you an extra one.'

SaltySeaBird Tue 22-Dec-15 08:53:38

But me and DH only want to "split" and still can't due to finance as his company (public sector) pay females 6 months full and males the statutory minimum (around £130/week not sure exact figure). I only want to take 6 weeks but can't afford for him to then take the following four months as planned.

They have said they expect it to be changed once the law is challenged, but at present SPL and provisions for men don't have to match maternity provisions.

Tangoandcreditcards Tue 22-Dec-15 09:08:15

I see that chanie but in a couple of cases here (salty and boleh) the SPL policies have been worked in such a way to actually disincentivise men/partners taking shared leave. Which really defeats the object of the legislation. Meaning it isn't fully fit for purpose.

One would hope that as the concept matures, employers will align policies in a way that is fair for all. But I just don't think that will happen (if it did, then enhanced maternity policies would have standardised across industries, which they haven't).

Sorry, this is way off the OP's post (which I think is a misconception about extra cake, as you say).

But the current legislation is FAR too complex and not going to work if it still allows employers to differentiate between SPL and mat leave.

Benzalkonium Tue 22-Dec-15 09:49:50

Perhaps a misconception about extra cake, I don't know.
To clarify, I am eligible for 39 weeks of what my employer offer me (smp) and them 13 weeks of nothing. I wanted to curtail my pay by 8 weeks, and for my partner to get what his organization offer, which is 14 weeks of full pay. How is this getting extra cake?

On what planet can my partner actually take 14 weeks off? Well 2 weeks are forbidden anyway as stated in the policy, but can you imagine allowing your partner the last couple of weeks off while you are heavily pregnant, so that you can go to work, while he rests on your behalf? Of course not! And if you did he would lose his entatlement to paternity leave. So if you took 4 weeks off before due date, then that's 6 weeks he can't take anyhow, and if you want to breastfeed, you are extremely unlikely to want to give him the leave before 12 weeks or so.

In my case there i cant find any mention in the policy that his weeks of paid entitle ment are triggered and start tick tocking the day my maternity leave commences. Would any of you who work in hr be willing to look at his document and tell me where it does say that?

Hence our disappointment.

We live in a world where men earn more than women. We can afford for me to be on smp for 9 months. We can't afford for him to be on smp for 8 weeks.

Benzalkonium Tue 22-Dec-15 09:51:20

Thank you everyone for sharing your experience by the way. I am disappointed on your behalves too. I thought this was an opportunity, but it turns out its not. It's just lip service.

SueDunome Tue 22-Dec-15 10:38:34

Okay, the entitlement to ShPL is an entitlement to share the mother's entitlement to ML/SMP. The entitlement to statutory pay is identical so, effectively, the mother forgoes her entitlement to SMP to allow her partner to claim ShPP. Contractual entitlement to enhanced pay is at the discretion of individual employers. There is no requirement for employers to pay enhanced Shared Paternity Pay even if they pay enhanced Maternity Pay because they are two separate benefits. There is no case for discrimination as long as both male and female employees receive the same contractual Shared Paternity Pay (which does not have to be equivalent to the company's contractual maternity pay).

SaltySeaBird Tue 22-Dec-15 11:10:17

It is effectively discrimination though when females are offered enhanced pay, but males are not, even where there employer does have enhanced maternity.

Effectively we are unable to share leave because of the financial penalties of splitting it. This is not in the spirit of SPL.

I can take 6 months off and have my career stalled and in all likelihood lose my job. (Not legal but reality).

Or I can take 6 weeks off, DH who works in a very different culture can take 4 months ... But we can't pay our mortgage or eat ...

SaltySeaBird Tue 22-Dec-15 11:12:52

Also, by opting for shared leave we forgo the 6 weeks at 90% salary offered by SMP. Is this correct?

Boleh Tue 22-Dec-15 11:31:38

I'm not an expert but I don't think you 'forego' the 6 weeks at 90% pay, only that either you take it your partner does and as someone unthread pointed out for practical and medical reasons the women will almost always need that first 6 weeks.
My company has been scrupulously fair (if somewhat irritating) with their enhanced pay. My DH and I work for the same employer either of us can take the paid 6 months (but not both) and the following unpaid 6 months. In my case I'm the higher earner so likely I'd take the initial 6 months paid and he'd take a bit of unpaid following. If the salaries were reversed I'd probably take the unpaid but rather than him.
The issue for us is that because they want to be fair and 6 months paid leave is very generous, in many cases when the wife of a male employee had her paid leave come to an end (e.g. She just gets the 6 weeks at 90%) she could go back to work and her DH at our company could then take his 6 months less the 6 weeks his wife had taken - so 4.5 moths paid. This is vastly more than he'd have previously been entitled to (2 weeks). The company could never have afforded to give all these men the same maternity pay they gave their smaller number of female employees (formerly 6 months full pay and 6 months half). So to make it fair they've cut it for everyone back to only 6 months full pay.
this means as a couple we are 6 months half pay worse off, meaning I would have to go back to work earlier, DH won't benefit either as he could have taken unpaid leave anyway (unless they had a particular business reason to refuse). Less money coming in over the year means he's actually less likely to take the unpaid parental leave, than he would have been to take some leave alongside or after mine.

SaltySeaBird Tue 22-Dec-15 12:25:15

I can see how it's annoying you miss out, but my DH can't access any of the 6 months full pay available to women regardless of whether I take 2, 6 or 12 weeks. This is what our frustration is - I can't afford to realistically be off for more than 6 weeks without jeopardising my job, but we can't afford for him to then take any leave post these 6 weeks.

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