Aviva says its equal parental leave policy has led to equal numbers of mums and dads taking leave in the year after their baby’s birth, with dads now taking more leave since the policy was introduced.
Dads and mums are just as likely to take parental leave under Aviva’s equal parental leave policy and dads have increased the leave they take since the policy was first brought in, according to figures published today.
Aviva’s scheme was brought in three years ago and offers mums and dads 12 months’ leave, with six months on full pay. Aviva says the numbers of women and men taking the leave is almost equal, although women tend to take significantly more time off – 44 weeks compared to 24 for men. Dads, however, are taking three weeks more on average than when the scheme started, suggesting they are more comfortable with taking more leave. An Aviva survey shows 67% of parents think Covid has increased the onus on employers to do more for working parents.
The figures come amid a campaign for a complete review of the Government’s Shared Parental Leave scheme, which has maintained very low take-up levels since it was brought in, with calls for a more equal scheme which, like Aviva’s, would give both parents non-transferable paid leave to care for their child.
A group of organisations, including Maternity Action, the Fawcett Society, the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), the Royal College of Midwives, the TUC and the Women’s Budget Group, have accused the Government of “dragging their feet” on a promised consultation on Shared Parental Leave. An evaluation began in July 2018 and a consultation was due to report in 2019. This is now supposed to report later in the year. The government says take-up of SPL is between 2% and 8%, but Maternity Action’s analysis of the figures estimates that take-up is more likely to be between 3% and 4%.
Under Shared Parental Leave, which is not available to the self-employed, agency workers or those on zero hours, mothers opt to end their maternity leave early so fathers can share childcare responsibilties. It is remunerated at the statutory rate, currently £148.68 a week. Campaigners argue that, while finance is a big barrier to take-up, the way the policy has been devised, with the mother having to give up her maternity leave, does not encourage equal parenting.
Meanwhile, another Aviva survey out today shows the success of the vaccine rollout has helped workers feel much more optimistic about their return to work than they were following November’s lockdown, according to Aviva’s research of more than 2,000 employed adults across the UK.