‘Share the joy’ campaign promotes shared parental leave rights for parents

The Government has spent £1.5m on a campaign to make sure parents know they can take leave to share the special moments with their child in their baby’s first year, by taking Shared Parental Leave.  

Every year, around 285,000 couples are eligible to take Shared Parental Leave. However, take up could be as low as 2%, and half of the general public are unaware the option exists for parents.

Introduced in 2015, Shared Parental Leave is a workplace right for eligible parents and aims to offer them choice when it comes to childcare. Parents can 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 6 months. Mums can return to work sooner if they wish, dads can have more time to spend and bond with their baby.

Leila Reyburn and Tom Markwell work for charities in London. They had a baby girl, Pearl, in 2016 and decided to take Shared Parental Leave with Leila taking the first 10 months, and Tom taking the final 2 months.

Leila said:

“Shared Parental Leave meant I could say yes when the opportunity came for me to take a promotion at work. I could go back to work early to cover for my line manager while he was on secondment. 

“But it was also nice that I didn’t have to put Pearl in nursery at the same time and know she was bonding with her Dad. It means she now has a strong connection with us both and is equally attached to us both.”

Employers can also reap the benefits as flexibility in work is proven to create happier, more loyal and more productive workforces. This is a vital part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy – a long-term plan to build a Britain fit for the future by helping businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK. The policy can also contribute to closing their gender pay gap. 

Key facts

  • according to the Department for Business and Industrial Strategy research, 49% have heard of shared parental leave, but only 8% claim to know a lot about the policy
  • Government estimated that between 2% and 8% of eligible parents would take Shared Parental Leave in its first few years and take up is estimated to be in line with those initial expectations
  • parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave, taking it in up to three separate blocks, or sharing the time to have up to six months off together
  • parents can also share up to 37 weeks of Statutory Shared Parental Pay, this is paid at £140.98 per week - the same as the last 33 weeks of Statutory Maternity Pay
  • in 2014, the Government  introduced a right to request flexible working which applies to around 20 million people 
  • parents can benefit from up to £2,000-a-year of tax-free childcare per year

See if you are eligible, by visitingwww.gov.uk/sharetheleaveand talk to your employer today.