Shared parental leave: Popularity and value to employees significantly higher than predicted says Linklaters research

  • Additional pay will influence actual uptake
  • Employer attitudes also important
  • Employee preference for single, short period of leave

Significantly more parents are interested in taking up shared parental leave (SPL) than originally forecast by the Government according to new research published today by Linklaters, the global law firm.

According to the research – based on a survey of attitudes of employees within the FTSE 100 –  63% of those surveyed said they were either interested or very interested in taking up the new right, which comes into force on 1 December 2014. This compares to Government estimates of likely take-up between just 2-6%.

The survey, which was conducted in September this year, also found that men and women have similar levels of interest in the new right, at 62% and 63% respectively.

However, the research also found that the likely uptake of the new right will be significantly influenced by whether employers offer additional pay – over and above the statutory pay on offer. 76% of those interested in taking SPL said that entitlement to additional pay during SPL would be relevant or very relevant to them deciding to take-up SPL and just over 70% of those interested in taking SPL said that no or insufficient pay being available to them during SPL would be relevant to them not taking up the leave.

Pay is not the only relevant factor though. 62% of both men and women said that concerns about how taking SPL could be perceived by management and potential damage to their career prospects were relevant factors that would influence them not to take SPL. Further, 50% of men said that they would be influenced against taking SPL if  other men in their organisation opted not to take it.

SPL allows for significant flexibility in the leave that can be taken, including the option to take short intermittent periods of leave. Both men and women surveyed showed a significant preference for taking one rather than multiple periods of SPL and men overwhelmingly expressed a preference to take SPL at the same time as the mother rather than instead of her.

Simon Kerr-Davis, senior employment lawyer at Linklaters, said:

“There are three clear take-aways for business from our research.  First, there is an obvious appetite among parents for shared parental leave – it’s far larger than the Government had originally anticipated.  Second, enhanced pay is likely to be a key determining factor on eventual uptake, and third, employers have a key role to play overall in the value of SPL to employees.”

“All of these points go the heart of what employers are asking us – whether or not to offer pay enhancements and the issues relevant to this.  Even now, we know that many employers are still unsure how to make this decision.”

He added:

“For many employers, SPL will be a key part of their flexibility offering, helping to promote a diverse workforce and furthering the agenda of encouraging women into senior positions.  Offering additional pay during SPL is a question of employer-of-choice branding, and is a  way to endorse take-up by employees. But for maximum impact it should not be considered in isolation.”

In order to assess the risks and costs of offering additional pay, employers need to be able to make assumptions about the numbers of employees who will take up SPL, the value to employees of being able to do so and the likely patterns of leave they will request. For the full report please click here.

For more information please contact Rupert Winlaw on +44 20 7456 3219.

Notes to editors

  • Linklaters LLP is a leading global law firm, supporting clients in achieving their strategies wherever they do business. We use our expertise and resources to help clients pursue opportunities and manage risk across emerging and developed markets around the world.
  • Our pre-eminent Employment and Incentives practice has a reputation for excellence – we work at the cutting edge of employment law, offering global solutions for multi-jurisdictional transactions. Linklaters provides exceptional coverage across the principle economies of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, the Americas and Russia/CIS. With a balanced practice encompassing strategic advisory work, transactional involvement and contentious advice, we offer a unique service which has proved to be of great value to our clients. We are a commercially aware, experienced team with a focus on understanding our clients’ needs; our holistic approach and cross-office, multilingual teams make us a strong global player.
  • The research is based on a survey of 250 recent parents or parents-to-be, split evenly between men and women, working for a spread of employers within the FTSE100.  It was carried out in September 2014 by Opinion Matters on behalf of Linklaters.
  • The new right to Shared Parental Leave comes into force on 1 December 2014 in relation to babies due or children placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015.