The Government is launching a new advertising campaign to promote Shared Parental Leave as its figures show take-up could be as low as 2%.
The workplace right for eligible parents allows them to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay after having a baby. They can take time off separately or they can be at home together for up to six months. Around 285,000 couples every year are eligible, but the Government says low take-up could be in part due to the fact that around half of the general public are unaware that the option exists for parents.
The campaign encourages parents to ‘Share the joy’ and will aim to reach them through digital website advertising, social media, adverts in train stations and on commuter routes. A new website will provide detailed information and guidance.
Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “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.
“Employers can reap the benefits too. Shared Parental Leave was introduced in 2015 to offer choice to eligible parents when it comes to childcare, and allow mothers to return to work sooner if they wish to. The policy benefits employers who can retain talent in their workforce and can contribute to closing their gender pay gap.”
Minister for Women Victoria Atkins, added: “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.”
Working Families, the work life balance charity, welcomed the campaign, but said SPL should be a day one right in a new job and called on employers who could afford to to enhance Shared Parental Pay. It added: “If the Government is serious about equality at work and tackling the gender pay gap, it should consider also introducing a properly paid, standalone period of extended paternity leave for fathers.”