Shared Parental Leave | Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
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Shared Parental Leave

A campaign to promote the benefits of working parents taking shared parental leave continues this month, led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).    

Research suggests taking shared parental leave and pay can improve parental wellbeing and even their success at work. Fathers and partners no longer have to miss out on key moments of their child’s first year. Eligible parents can take up to 6 months off work together or alternatively stagger their time off so that one of them is always with their child in the first year. Eligible staff have a statutory right to take Shared Parental Leave and/or Pay if they give you the correct notice, and both the leave and pay can be taken flexibly (in up to 3 blocks). BEIS are asking businesses to recognise the benefits of being a family friendly employer and to make sure managers and staff know their rights.  

Nikki Slowey, Joint Programme Director of Family Friendly Working Scotland, said: 

“We know more fathers are sharing the care of children in general and they want more time to bond with a new baby in particular. This usually means fathers continue being more involved in the care – and fun – that goes with raising children, which is good for parents and children alike.  

“What’s more, creating more options for fathers means mothers benefit from greater choice in how to balance their own work and home life - mothers don’t have to be the only parent to take time out. This, in turn, is good for businesses because happier employees are more engaged and productive. Shared Parental Leave is definitely something employers should embrace and encourage.”

For further information on Shared Parental Leave, click here.

Case Studies

Names: Maree and Davy

Professions: Chief Executive & Senior Housing Advisor

Town/City: Glasgow 

When/how did you take SPL: We took SPL in 2016-17 when our first son Soren was born; and we’re now doing it for a second time, after the birth of Leo in September 2018. Both times, Davy took 12 weeks of leave (and also used his holidays to extend the time at home) in five 3-4 week blocks, spread out over 12 months. During those 5 blocks, he’s home full time and I work in the office full time. I took 26 weeks of leave in total and also used my holidays to extend. We worked out a plan for the shared leave, based on what we felt would work for our jobs / employers, as well as what would work best for us financially.  

Why did you take SPL:  We knew we always wanted to share parenting responsibilities as much as possible, and SPL made sense for both of us from a work perspective. I run my organisation, meaning that I have a lot of responsibilities, but I was also able to take decisions about how to plan my leave. And Davy’s employer is very supportive of SPL, offering good pay and flexibility.  

Research has shown that mums are often reluctant to relinquish the full year. What persuaded you (mother) and why can you recommend it?:   

It would have been very difficult for me to take a full year off from my job, because of the position I hold, but SPL has allowed me to stretch out 6 months of leave over a 12 month period. So I feel like I’ve had the benefits of being a full time mum, but at the different stages of baby-hood. It’s meant that I could be in the office working full time during busy periods, in the knowledge that in a few weeks I’d go back to being ‘mum’ full time. It’s allowed me to work throughout the year without having to forfeit my leave and return to work full time before I’ve felt ready too. When I went back to work in 2017 once my eldest son started nursery, it didn’t feel like big deal (as I know it does for some mums returning after a long maternity leave). Even through we’ve shared leave, I’ve taken the biggest share both times; meaning that I don’t feel I’ve missed out. Shared leave has contributed to the amazing bond my husband has with our boys – since they were tiny babies. Fortunately SPL hasn’t affected breastfeeding – I’ve been able to exclusively breastfeed both boys, albeit with the help of a breast pump. When I’m working, I express milk which my husband bottle feeds the next day. It’s actually nice to have all the benefits of breastfeeding, but have a little bit of freedom from it on occasion. It’s also given my husband the experience of feeding young babies, which I guess dads usually miss out on when babies are breastfed. We’ve both experienced the same highs and lows of being the stay-at-home parent, so we both know how rewarding it is, but how challenging it can be on occasion. So there’s no resentment between us and very little disagreement; we’re both on the same wavelength when it comes to parenting. And it’s definitely brought us closer together as a couple.  

Taking SPL is not that common. What persuaded you to take it (dad) and why can you recommend it?: 

Why: 

  • To allow me extra time with my young children than otherwise would have been the case 
  • To share more equitably our caring responsibilities for our children – I am equally responsible for their care after all. 
  • To allow my wife to maintain contact with her work. 
  • Our enhanced workplace SPL polices allowed for this without impinging too greatly on our finances – not every couple has this opportunity so we feel lucky to have had the chance.  

Recommend: 

  • The extended time with the boys when they were really small was amazing – I feel lucky to have experienced this.  
  • definitely feel like its enhanced my relationship with both of them.  
  • Sharing responsibilities for care has been great for us as a family and a couple – definitely feel closer and happier as a result.  
  • Sharing some of the difficult moments teaches you a lot as a dad and a husband. Your appreciation of your partner increases exponentially for a start but I think it also sets the tone for our future child care arrangements – we’ll share as much as we can.   

Names: Gregor and Amy

Professions: Solicitor & self-employed pre-school music business owner  

Town/City: Glasgow 

When/how did you take SPL: I took maternity leave from June to October 2015 then we switched to SPL from Oct 2015 to end of Feb 2016.  I was due to take the final 13 weeks of SPL after Gregor then went back to work - a decision we made because I was the lower earner and there's no pay at all during those last 13 weeks. But then I decided to start my own business during that time so I left my previous job.  

Why did you take SPL:  Friends of ours had split leave under the previous Additional leave system, and really enjoyed it. My wife and I were both keen to share the work load so it made sense to do that during the first year too. Unfortunately, as my wife is now self-employed and I am the higher earner it may not be financially viable to take SPL the second time round. 

Research has shown that mums are often reluctant to relinquish the full year. What persuaded you (mother) and why can you recommend it?:   

If we want our partners to do 50% of parenting then they should get the benefits (and challenges) of that right from the start. It was really important to me that our son developed a secure attachment to both parents. I could tell my husband was going to be a really great Dad and that he'd enjoy baby classes and coffee mornings (even if there was often no baby change in the gents' toilets) so I felt he should get the opportunity to do all that. 3 years on we still to everything equally and he does far more than I see other dads doing. Maybe there are a lot of mums who don't want to give up time out of their year, but there are also a lot of dads who won't admit they don't actually want to be stuck at home with a baby! 

Taking SPL is not that common. What persuaded you to take it (dad) and why can you recommend it?: It was my wife's suggestion in the first place. She was keen for us both to share the workload to set us up for the future. She was also worried how she would feel going back to work after maternity leave. If Keir had gone into nursery as soon as she went back she'd have been anxious, but she knew that if I was at home with him she would be more relaxed. There is no substitute for being a primary caregiver. Even for the most hands-on working dad, it's a totally different experience being a stay-at-home dad. It's a great opportunity to bond with your child, but it's great for the adult too. Being in charge of the little day-to-day decisions really boosts your confidence as a parent and you very quickly learn not to sweat the small stuff. You'll never take your partner for granted, but it works both ways too. Your partner will quickly learn how tiring it is to work full-time and then come home to baby. Each one learns the other doesn't have it easy. I'd love to see a greater uptake of SPL, but I think there needs to be greater financial incentive.  Sadly, the reality is that in a large majority of cases the father is the higher earner. But as fathers do not benefit from the 90% period of pay that mothers are entitled to at the beginning of statutory maternity pay, it can be definitely for families to manage when the father is the one on leave. An increase in the basic rate of statutory pay would also help both parents!

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