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Male employees are twice as likely as women to be put off taking shared parental leave out of fear of what employers or colleagues will think, according to new research.
A survey of over 1,150 employees by employee benefits consultancy Portus Consulting shows one in six male workers would be deterred from sharing leave with their partner over concerns their employer could not afford them to take time off or colleagues would resent them taking up the new rights, compared with just 7% of women.
The survey found the new right to SPL, which came in on 5th April, has been generally welcomed by employees with 13% saying they are considering or would consider requesting it over the next five years.
Only 28% of those who are potentially eligible to take shared parental leave say they would not be deterred from taking it by factors such as concerns over employers’ reactions and 23% say they definitely do not want to take shared leave. The number was slightly lower for women, with around 19% of women who would be eligible saying they do not want to take shared leave.
The major reason putting people off taking shared leave is the potential financial impact – 28% say they cannot afford to take the maternity or paternity leave they were entitled to before the new laws.
But there is also a gender divide on the potential financial impact deterring people from taking SPL – three times as many women (21%) say their partner earns more than them so they cannot afford to share leave, compared with just 7% of men who have partners who earn more than them.
Adam Riley, Director of Business Development at Portus Consulting, said: “The launch of shared parental leave is a good thing in general but in detail there are challenges for families and for businesses.
“Affordability is the major issue for individuals and businesses, but it is striking that many male employees are concerned that their colleagues or employers will object to them taking their statutory rights to shared leave.
“The key for employers is to ensure that they have a clear policy on shared parental leave which is communicated to all staff so people understand what is on offer.”
Portus’s research also shows men and women are equally concerned about the impact of taking parental leave on their careers – one in 20 employees believe sharing leave would harm their prospects.
And the study found there is concern about being the first in an organisation to request shared parental leave – around 2% say they would not want to be the shared parental leave guinea pig in their company.