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It was brought into effect a year ago to create gender equality and allow fathers to spend more time with their babies, but research suggests that only 2% of fathers are taking advantage of shared parental leave.

The Shared Parental Leave (SPL) scheme means that rather than just being entitled to just two weeks paternity leave, fathers now have the option of splitting up to 50 weeks of parental leave between themselves and their partner.

Explaining the reasoning behind the scheme, which was introduced on April 5th 2015, the then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “More and more fathers want to play a hands-on role with their young children, but too many feel that they can’t.  That’s an Edwardian system that has no place in 21st-century Britain.”

Jeremy Davies, from the think tank the Fatherhood Institute, has also spoken of a shift in attitudes over the past ten years.

“In 2012 the percentage of British people who believed in what you’d call a ‘traditional model’, where the dad is the breadwinner and the mum is a carer, was only 35%,” he said.  “If you look at the youngest people, the 16- to 25-year-olds surveyed, it’s just 5%.”

According to the TUC, half of new dads were not taking their full entitlement of two weeks statutory paternity leave before SPL was introduced and this figure rose to 75% of fathers on lower incomes.

The TUC also estimated that 40% (two fifths) of working dads would not be eligible to SPL due to factors such as the mother not being in paid work or have not been working with the same employer for 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the child’s expected due date.

And while a Mumsnet survey found that 82% of users of the site would like dads to take more parental leave, a study by the employee benefits organisation My Family Care found that just 2% of companies have seen a significant uptake of SPL.

So how does the UK compare to other countries?

  • Sweden offers a generous 16-month parental leave which can be taken by either mothers or father
  • In some countries, like Denmark, Norway and Portugal, fathers can take paternity leave at 100 per cent of their normal earnings
  • In other countries, such as China and India, fathers are not entitled to any paid paternity leave

For more information on Shared Parental Leave or any other HR concerns, please contact me on 01656 630 010 or email


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