Employers Deloitte, PwC and Shell have been the first to confirm they will be enhancing parental pay for all employees when shared parental leave takes effect next April.
The announcement made by government today follows deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s recent confirmation that the civil service will enhance shared parental leave as well as maternity leave. The three companies employ 100,000 people between them.
While companies will not be under a legal obligation to enhance SPL leave in the way they do maternity leave, commentators have expressed concern that not enhancing leave for fathers opens businesses to problems in the workplace. It also makes taking the leave difficult for financial reasons.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “I’m delighted that Deloitte, PWC and Shell are taking positive steps in modernising the workplace by providing flexible working arrangements for hardworking parents. It is bizarre that even in the 21st century, hundreds and thousands of employees are still restricted by Edwardian rules when it comes to juggling their work and family lives.”
He called on employers to set an example when it comes to offering flexible working arrangements so that working parents feel empowered to make their own decisions in their own time. “We know this boosts productivity, loyalty and retention of staff in the workplace so this is not just about common sense it makes financial sense too.”
Charity Working Families welcomed the news that the employers have stepped forward to declare their intention to enhance SPL. Chief executive Sarah Jackson said: “Shared Parental Leave provides a real opportunity for employers to demonstrate their support for parents, and their commitment to equality between men and women within the wider context of a supportive work-life culture.”
She said evidence points to higher take up of SPL than the additional paternity leave scheme it replaces. “Already amongst Working Families employer members, anecdotal indications are that take-up of SPL could be as high as 20 per cent and that men will take between four and 12 weeks, most likely when the new baby arrives and then again when their partner transitions back to work,” she said.
“Employers should seriously consider matching contractually enhanced pay and benefits during SPL to those currently available to women employees who are on maternity leave. The potential gains, from an engagement point of view, are substantial, and the marginal costs relatively low – for larger employers, the equivalent of two or three extra maternity leavers per hundred each year.
Jackson added that even employers who offer statutory pay can encourage employees to consider SPL and support their choices. “We are seeing the beginning of a quiet revolution in how fathers and mothers share work and care,” she predicted
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