Shared Parental Leave laws come into effect in December

Next month, a new shared parental leave (SPL) regime comes into force. The SPL allows working couples whose babies are born on or after 5th April 2015 to share maternity leave and pay.

Currently, mothers are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave and 39 weeks of statutory maternity pay. Fathers are entitled to two weeks’ paternity leave at the time of birth and up to a further 26 weeks’ parental leave once the child is 20 weeks old, if the mother has chosen to return to work.

The government estimates that only 2-8 per cent of men will take SPL in 2015-16, according to the Law Society Gazette. The paper added that official research in other European countries where similar reform has taken place suggests these numbers are likely to rise as fathers become more aware of the provisions. In Germany, for example, take-up increased from 3.3 per cent in 2006 to 20 per cent in 2010.