The Government has just finished its £1.5m advertising campaign to promote shared parental leave (SPL) after just a 2% take-up of the policy since its introduction. So did you and your employees get the memo? Probably not!
Despite being 3 years down the line since launch, many companies still know little about it and don’t have the right systems and infrastructures in place to manage SPL well, and research shows that around half the population aren’t even aware that SPL even exists.
The introduction of Shared Parental Leave in April 2015 was intended to be a watershed moment in terms of changing the culture around childcare and gender equality. It would allow men to take a greater share of parental responsibility, reverse the motherhood penalty and create a fairer and more gender balanced workplace; at least that is what was hoped.
In reality, social policies take time to bed down and whist waiting for the Government reforms to take shape, businesses can and should be taking a more proactive approach to turning that ‘hope for change’ into ‘affirmative action’.
So, with Father’s Day just around the corner, why not take some action now?
Here’s what you need to know about shared parental leave and how you can help shape the future of gender equality.
What is shared parental leave (SPL)?
Under shared parental leave, mothers can commit to ending their maternity leave and pay at a certain date, and their partner can share the untaken balance of leave. Parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave, or share up to six months’ off together.
What are the benefits to my business of SPL?
The SPL policy should be good news for employers as they can reap the benefits too. We know that flexibility in work is proven to create happier, more loyal and more productive workforces.
Consider proactive support of SPL it as an investment in your workforce of the future and in your culture. It’s an investment in your employee engagement – lets face it, the easier you make it for staff to take care of their new-borns and then return, the more efficient your company will become.
And by taking a pre-emptive approach to change, you can create a positive company profile and image as an employer of choice for your innovative and forward thinking HR policies. It makes you appear a much more desirable employer to prospective high quality candidates and won’t harm your PR either.
There will be business challenges
Of course positive change doesn’t come without its challenges and you may:
- Find it difficult to source cover for maternity and paternity leave
- Need to be pro-active in ensuring that other colleagues aren’t left to pick up the slack.
- Find it difficult to plan projects and ensure they are appropriately staffed,
- Find it more difficult administratively to keep track of where people are and how long they are on leave.
But good planning and preparation here is key.
How can you manage SPL effectively?
To manage shared parental leave effectively, companies need the right systems in place.
Absence management software for instance can help companies manage the administration of the shared parental leave and reduce the disruption to business and impact on productivity levels. Such systems can manage any kind of absence; including sickness, holidays or even dental appointments, as well as helping facilitate flexible working practices. Having up to date information of where people are at any one time enables businesses to manage shared parental leave effectively and confidently plan ahead in terms of strategy, projects and resources. Implementing absence management software also allows businesses to do more to encourage their workforce to take up shared parental leave when they have a family – something that can improve employee engagement and inspire greater staff loyalty.
Create a culture of equality and inclusivity – Proactively promote SPL to staff, especially your men; recent research showed that men are still “embarrassed” to ask employers for their entitlements, fearing the impact it could have on their career.
What can you do today?
You can give me a call on 07766 741738 or drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, today and chat about making gender equality policies work positively for you, your business and your staff and what systems you can put in place to manage them effectively. Change in childcare and gender equality in the workplace is happening, so why not make a conscious decision to drive it, rather than play catch up.