Shared Parental Leave – are you ready?

By Alison Humphry
I was reminded that one should not make assumptions about employer’s views a few weeks back when speaking to a group of small business owners. Playing to my crowd a little, I referred in slightly negative terms to the (sadly true) barrage of bureaucracy that will accompany shared parental leave requests, to which one of the attendees retorted that such a system had worked perfectly well in Scandinavia for years.
We look forward to working with our employer and employee clients on getting good, constructive arrangements in place. But will men and partners avail themselves of the rights? Despite the assiduous amendment of many employee handbooks for “Additional Paternity Leave” rights a few years back, very few men actually seem to have taken the plunge.
Will shared parental leave be any different? Well it might be. It’s a lot more flexible than Additional Paternity Leave, given that it can be taken concurrently with the mother, and in discontinuous periods (subject to certain conditions). This increased flexibility may well increase takeup.
That bureaucracy point is a real one though. The law envisages request letters, notifications, declarations, checks, meetings, and the list goes on. Employers in all sectors would now do well to ensure that they understand the law, as requests can now be made in respect of babies due to be born in April 2015 onwards, and the law applies to employers of all sizes.