Shared parental leave take-up as low as 2%

shared parental leave

The government is encouraging more parents to take up the offer of shared parental leave in their baby's first year as new figures show how low the uptake has been among the 285,000 eligible couples

Fathers aren't 'sharing the joy' when it comes to parental leave, and half of the general public aren't even aware of the scheme which allows parents to spilt between them up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay after having a baby.

The revelation that take-up of shared parental leave has been as low as 2% comes as the government launches a new campaign, 'Share the Joy'. The initiative promotes shared parental leave rights for parents and shows parents that they can share the childcare in their baby's first year while maintaining their careers.

Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said that “shared parental leave gives choice to families. Dads and partners don’t have to miss out on their baby’s first step, word or giggle – they can share the childcare, and share the joy.”

The campaign aims to reach parents through digital website advertising, social media, adverts in train stations and on commuter routes. A new website will provide detailed information and guidance. Minister for Women Victoria Atkins said, "this government is determined to tackle and ultimately close the gender pay gap. To do this, we need to support women to fulfil their potential in the workplace – and giving women the choice to share childcare with their partners is crucial to that effort.

However a survey conducted last year by the charity Working Families suggested that finances were a barrier to many families considering shared parental leave. Chief executive Sarah Jackson told the BBC that some fathers could not afford to take it.

“Of those fathers who said they wouldn't use the scheme, more than a third said this was because they couldn't afford to,” she said.

To take shared parental leave you must have worked continuously for the same employer for around 40 weeks (ie from around the time you or your partner became pregnant). Parents can take time off separately or they can be at home together for up to six months. Shared parental pay is paid at the rate of £140.98 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

For more information on shared parental leave, see the gov.uk factsheet.