Half of fathers would use shared parental leave survey finds

The survey results revealed

More than half of fathers would use Shared Parental Leave, according to a new survey from work life balance charity Working Families, carried out to mark the second anniversary of the scheme.

 Over 300 fathers took part in the father’s survey.

  • 52 per cent said they would make use of the scheme. The main reasons they gave were to spend time bonding with their new child, and because they and their partner want to share care. 
  • Of those fathers who said they wouldn’t use the scheme, more than a third said this was because they couldn’t afford to.
  • A quarter of fathers didn’t know about SPL.

To help increase awareness of SPL, Working Families has worked with Alliance Manchester Business School, Lancaster University School of Management and the Fatherhood Institute to create a new video case book showing the first-hand experiences of parents who have used the scheme.

Sarah Jackson OBE, Chief Executive of Working Families, said: “It’s obvious many fathers want to spend time bonding with their child in the early days and to share care with their partner.”

“The fact that more than half of fathers want to make use of SPL shows how far we have come on the journey towards shared care and shared careers. Good news for families but also good news for the economy.” 

“Father willingness and aspiration is there.  As we embark on EU exit negotiations the government has said it wants to protect and enhance the rights people have at work.  An excellent place to start would be making SPL a day one right for fathers.” 

“But families are unlikely to make use of SPL unless it makes financial sense for them to do so.  The government should consider equalising statutory maternity pay and shared parental pay to prevent SPL being a second-class option and encourage more fathers to use it. Employers going beyond the minimum pay for SPL would also make it a more realistic option for more families.”

The DaddiLife Community, which supported the survey, said: “From the hundreds of fathers we spoke to across the DaddiLife Community, we found that more and more dads want to take extended parental leave beyond what is currently statutory, but don’t feel that it is readily available.”

“They want to embrace more parental responsibility than ever, and time with their young families is now just as important as time at work.” 

“However, what is clear from these results is that British fathers don’t yet have enough awareness and access to SPL.  At a time where our economy needs to foster as much productivity as possible, it’s imperative that the government and employers are creating the right conditions to ensure that dads in the workplace are supported.”

The video case book follows a study in which Dr Emma Banister and Dr Ben Kerrane identified that one of the key barriers individuals face when considering SPL is the lack of accessible, credible and accurate information about the scheme. 

Dr Emma Banister, Senior Lecturer in Consumer Research at Alliance Manchester Business School, said: “Many employers don’t have the resources to be able to provide dedicated information to their employees. And so, working parents can find it difficult to work out the options available to them.” 

“These new films let parents and employers hear the honest, lived experiences both positive and negative of those who have used SPL. They’re freely available to everyone and we hope they can help bridge the gap in knowledge of the scheme.”

 Dr Ben Kerrane, Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Lancaster University School of Management, said: “There are lots of misconceptions and perceived barriers surrounding the use of SPL.”

“The families that we have spoken with who have used SPL have found it a rewarding and life-changing experience, and given the complexity of the scheme they are keen for their stories to be heard to help other parents consider whether SPL is right for them”.

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