United Kingdom

Shared parental leave legislation

December 2014


Shared parental leave regulations have come into force this month, despite over a fifth of HR Directors admitting they are not ready for the new legislation.

According to a new report by business outsourcing provider ADP which polled over 2,500 UK staff including HR professionals, 21 per cent said they were not yet able to meet the requirements and 70 per cent said they expected ‘little or no interest’ in the new entitlements within the first 12 months.

The findings are backed up by similar research from Glassdoor which suggested that the scheme may not have a strong take up at first due to mens’ attitudes.

But Matt Duffy, Head of Online Consultancy at Aon Employee Benefits was not surprised by the expectation that scheme take-up could be slow: “This is a radical change to the current maternity/paternity leave system and will take parents time to understand the rules and determine whether Shared Parental Leave is right for them,” he said. “Therefore, the findings that there is likely to be a slow uptake are unsurprising, but, whether it's due to men's attitudes or just the fact it's new is debatable.”

From April 1st 2015, it will become a legal requirement for employers to provide a shared parental leave scheme for eligible parents and adopters of children born on or after that date. The scheme is expected to cost businesses around £17.1million in the first year alone.

Under the new scheme, shared parental leave allows parents - within certain rules and advanced notifications – to decide who will take time off and when. Following the compulsory two weeks maternity leave, the remaining 50 weeks of leave can be split into weekly blocks between each parent.

The ADP research also found that a third of staff between the ages of 16-34 were intending to take advantage of the scheme within the next few years whilst 11 per cent of those polled were unaware of the new legislation all together.

Annabel Jones, HR Director at ADP told Employee Benefits that shared parental leave represented ‘a step change’ for working parents’ but warned that HR Directors could have ‘underestimated the impact’ the legislation was likely to have.

“In these cases, it’s time to start swotting up on the new rules to ensure [they] are ready to answer any upcoming employee questions,” she said.

Duffy added: “We know employees want more flexibility, in where they work, how they work and the benefits they receive. The Government's recent changes to support working parents, such as Shared Parental Leave and forthcoming Tax Free Childcare will further support this choice in the workplace. Therefore, it is essential employers have a robust policy, a clear communication programme and embrace the opportunity this brings to promote themselves as forward thinking employers to recruit and retain the best people.”



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