Shared Parental Leave and working environment for women


Recently in the UK, shared parental leave was introduced for mothers and adopters, whose babies were due or children placed for adoption on or after 5 April of this year. They are able to share flexibly 50 of their 52 weeks, i.e. one year, maternity/adoption leave with their partners and, for example, they can take it at the same time or in turns. They can also share 37 of their 39 weeks’ statutory maternity/adoption pay, which is 90% of their salary for the first six weeks, and then 90% of their salary or £139.58 per week whichever is the lower.

This system is expected to offer a better working environment for women. With men able to take extended leave, it is more difficult for recruiters to think, “We cannot employ a woman because she might take maternity leave soon.” Of course, this was not legal previously, but in reality it is possible to avoid employing her using different reasons. If men start taking shared parental leave, the issues faced by women become theirs too.

We do not yet know if people are actually using this system. The additional paternity leave (a partner can take up to 26 weeks of the latter half of maternity/adoption leave) introduced in 2011 prior to the introduction of shared parental leave was taken by only 1.4% of qualifying partners in the second year. The reason may be monetary because statutory pay is not high, or there may be less incentive because there is no “take or lose” period as in Nordic countries. So, some people believe more needs to be done.

Japanese people may not be familiar with adoption leave. In the UK, adoption leave offers similar rights as maternity leave, in order that for example, same sex couples or parents who cannot have children are not disadvantaged.

For our HR Annual Service clients, we have added a shared parental leave policy including procedures in their Staff Handbook. If your organisation has not yet done so, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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