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Research highlights the importance of educating employees about shared parental leave

Research carried out by leading recruitment company Search Consultancy has revealed that fewer than a fifth of employers have received applications for Shared Parental Leave (SPL).

Up to 52 weeks of leave, 39 of which are eligible for statutory pay, can be shared by parents if they meet certain eligibility criteria.

The scheme allows women the choice to return to work earlier and hand over any unused maternity leave allowance to the father.

The new rights, introduced earlier this year, mean that parents can take leave in their child's first year at different times or double up by taking leave at the same time.

At a series of seminars hosted by Search over the summer, 72% of 178 clients who attended said they now have a SPL policy in place.

However, only 17% of the clients who attended the seminars said they had received applications for SPL from their employees.

The survey shows that despite the majority of companies putting clear SPL policies in place, the acceptance of existing provisions for maternity and paternity are still deeply embedded in the minds of employees.

The seminars, held in Manchester, Leicester, Liverpool and Leeds, examined the potential impact of this year’s General Election results on employment law.

Debbie Caswell, Search Consultancy’s Managing Director for England, said: “It is very encouraging to see that the vast majority of employers are up to speed with the new rights regarding Shared Parental Leave and have clear policies in place for their staff.

“What is interesting is the low uptake amongst employees. It will be interesting to see if this increases over time, or whether more needs to be done to shake off the entrenched attitudes towards both parents taking leave when a baby arrives.”

Search’s “ask the audience” surveys found that only 31 of the 178 clients who attended the seminars had received applications for SPL, while 128 had created a SPL policy.

Hosted by leading employment law expert Fiona McKay of Seminars and Solutions, the seminars examined issues such as zero hours contracts, family friendly working, volunteering leave and EU reform.

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