Childcare

The New Shared Parental Leave and Pay Regulations

[Image - Petras Gagilas]
Written by Sam Skelding

With the new Shared Parental Leave and Pay regulations in place, we break down what the changes mean for new dads across the UK.

According to a recent survey, 73% of men in the UK are unaware of the new Shared Parental Leave and Pay regulations, which came into force on 1st December 2014.

The survey, conducted by Office Genie, an office search engine for small businesses and freelancers, asked 1000 UK men whether or not they were aware of the new Shared Parental Leave and Pay regulations. The results are particularly worrying, as these new regulations could have a huge impact for a number of new fathers and their families.

“Only 34.19% of 18 – 34 year olds and 28.74% of 35 – 54 year olds (the two age groups most likely to be affected by the new regulations) were aware of the regulations.” Office Genie 

Unsurprisingly, men with no children were most oblivious to the new regulations at 78.33%, however, they were closely followed with men with three children at 68%. This suggests that the new regulations haven’t been promoted particularly well, a surprise when we consider they benefit both UK families and businesses alike.

What are the new Shared Parental Leave and Pay regulations?

The new Shared Parental Leave and Pay regulations, which came into force at the start of December last year, give parents improved flexibility in arrangements of how to best share the care of a new child.

The new rules, which apply to couples with babies due or children matched/placed for adoption on or after 5th April 2015, allow parents to choose whether or not they split the mother’s maternity leave between them.

These new regulations are expected to affect as many as 285,000 working couples, who will be eligible to share parental leave from April this year. They completely change how maternity leave can be used and should give working fathers more confidence in taking time off to care for their children.

Out with the old and in with the new

Up until recently, families have had fairly limited options with work following the arrival of a new baby. The previous maternity system assumed that the mother carried out the majority of the childcare responsibilities and did not sufficiently recognise the role fathers regularly play in the childcare process. Today, it is not just mothers who want to stay at home to look after their newborn baby and the new regulations finally reflect this.

The new regulations benefit all parties

When using the new Shared Parental Leave and Pay regulations, mothers will still be able to take off a minimum of two weeks of maternity leave immediately after giving birth but after that, it’s up to the couple in which way they decide to share the 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay.

This increased flexibility is great for families, not to mention businesses and the economy. Having increased choice over parental leave and the opportunity to work with flexibility is likely to motivate workers, improve productivity and lead to better staff retention levels. The government has also stated that these new regulations are a step towards creating a more flexible workforce in the UK.

What do you think about the new Shared Parental Leave and Pay regulations? Did you have any idea they had changed? If you are in any doubt about your situation, it’s highly advised that you seek legal advice about your rights and entitlements under the regulations.

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