UK Policy Briefings
Shared Parental Leave reform
Date Posted: Thursday 18th February 2021
This briefing published jointly with Maternity Action UK sets out the current problems with the shared parental leave system in the UK today, and the impact that this has on gender-equality at home and at work. Having a genuinely fair system of parental leave is one of the tenets of a more gender equal society. This joint briefing sets out a vision for what a fair shared parental leave system might look like.
The introduction of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) was an important recognition that care should be shared equally between parents. However, because of the lack of incentive in design, take-up by men has been low. In 2018/19 just 10% of fathers took shared parental leave. SPL has failed to tackle early years inequalities between women and men so far.
- The current shared parental leave system exacerbates the gender pay gap, as mothers are on average, paid less than fathers over the course of a lifetime, due to taking longer career breaks to care. For example, only one third of women in dual earner households bring home at least half of the household income. Perceptions about women’s employment means unequal pay also continues.
Nationally representative polling by Survation for WBG’s Commission on a Gender-Equal Economy found: Nearly 8 in 10 (79%) of people agreed that women and men should share caring tasks for children more equally.
Over two thirds (67%) of people agree that men should be encouraged and financially supported by the Government to provide more care for their children.