Mums divided on sharing parental leave

Mums are divided on whether they would share their maternity leave with their partner, according to a poll.

Hands holding paper cut outs of a family


The poll showed 43% said they would share it, compared to 48% who said they wouldn’t. The remaining nine per cent were unsure.

Of those who would, one woman said: “Why wouldn’t I? We both made the baby.” Of those who wouldn’t, one stated that if women had carried the baby for nine months while working and given birth to him or her, she thought “a break is well deserved”. Another added that although she was the main breadwinner, she would rather her partner worked.

Research published earlier this month to mark the first anniversary of the introduction of Shared Parental Leave showed just 1% of men have so far taken it up while 55% of women say they wouldn’t want to share their maternity leave, compared to 48% of women who said they wanted to have a shorter time off for career purposes.

The combined survey of over 1,000 parents and 200 HR Directors by My Family Care and the Women’s Business Council found that taking up SPL was very much dependent on a person’s individual circumstances, particularly their financial situation and the paternity pay on offer from their employer.

The main reasons why men have chosen not to take up SPL were cited as financial affordability, lack of awareness, and unwillingness from women to share their maternity leave. Some 80% of both men and women agreed that a decision to share leave would be dependent on their finances and their employer’s enhancement of SPL.

Ben Kerrane of the Making room for dads research project at Lancaster University Management School agreed that many decisions on SPL boiled down to practicalities, but added that the legislation was very much worded as something a mother gives up, as her entitlement.

“The onus is still very much on women relinquishing some of their leave,” he says. “It is a managed equality and it is not just women who are often reluctant to give it up. Many men see the leave as the mother’s entitlement too.”

They want change, but they recognise that women have had to bear the whole pregnancy, from which many dads feel detached, and that they needed some time to recover, said Kerrane.

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