A new Government advertising campaign[i] ‘Share the Joy’ is seeking to encourage more parents to take up the offer of Shared Parental Leave in their baby’s first year, after it was revealed take up is as low 2% and around half the population are unaware that the option exists for parents. Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director, Activ Absence says the low take up could be a result of companies not having the right systems in place to manage shared paternity well.
Adrian Lewis says, “With Mother’s Day around the corner this is a timely reminder for all new parents or those trying for a family that shared parental leave is an option they could both take up. This progressive legislation was designed to give greater flexibility and choice to families, however, the reality is many new fathers in particular can feel unable to take it up.
“One of the barriers can be their employer hasn’t put systems in place to make this is a workable option, and therefore isn’t promoting it. If more men did decide to take the shared paternity leave they are entitled to some companies would struggle to cope with the practicalities of managing this,” adds Mr Lewis.
The parental leave legislation came into force in April 2015 and allows eligible parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay after having a baby. They can take time off separately or they can be at home together for up to 6 months.
The challenges for employers include finding cover for maternity and paternity leave, and not leaving it up to other colleagues to pick up the slack. Businesses can also find it difficult to plan projects and ensure they are appropriately staffed, plus administratively it can be more difficult to keep track of where people are and how long they are on leave.
Adrian Lewis says, “To manage shared paternity 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,” adds Mr Lewis.