What is Shared Parental Leave?
Shared Parental Leave is a right for all parents that allows couples to either share the workload when raising a baby, or to spend more time together as a family. Parents can take up to 50 weeks of Shared Parental Leave and may also be entitled to 37 week of Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if you meet certain conditions and earn at least a lower threshold limit. ShPP is 90% of your average earnings, or £151.20, whichever is lower.
Thankfully, the government have a handy calculator on their website for expectant parents to see if they are eligible for ShPP and for how much. Please check their website www.gov.uk/pay-leave-for-parents, for up to date information on all of this. It also covers the eligibility criteria for both birth parents and adoptive parents as there is a slight difference.
The benefits of shared parental leave
The sad fact is that there’s still a fair bit of a stigmatism around shared parental leave, with men often reluctant to broach the subject with their work for fear of ridicule and damage to their career prospects. The good news, however, is that things are changing. More and more employers are actively encouraging expectant parents to share the load, and slowly but surely it’s becoming more and more prevalent in everyday society.
So, if you’re considering shared parental leave here are some of the benefits…
1. Being there for the precious moments
The list of precious moments that don’t fall within the first 2 weeks of parenthood is long, substantial and likely not to wait until mummy or daddy get home from work. Things like baby’s first word, their first spoonful of food, first steps, first time rolling over, first time sitting up. You get the picture. By sharing parental leave, you’re increasing your chances of catching at least some of these wonderful moments. And I know most of us have now got cameras built in our phones nowadays to capture them, but you can’t beat being there in person.
2. Helping mum acclimatise
Being a mum can be an overwhelming experience and sharing the load can be a big help. After all, two hands are better than one.
3. Reintegration back into the workplace
Being off work for 52 weeks can do wonders for the primary carer and baby bonding and development, but it can be difficult to get bang into the swing of things at work after such a big gap. Splitting the leave can help make things easier in this respect.
4. More and more options available
Under modern shared parental leave regulations both parents can take shared leave however they choose. You can both be off at the same time, you can alternate, you can do it in chunks or spread it out over a longer period of time.
- Daniel Nettle from the Centre for Behaviour and Evolution, Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University
Father of 2
Living in Budapest with his wife and two children, Gareth is a freelance writer, creative strategist, film maker and author of the ‘The Budanest’, a book about his experience of fatherhood. He gives us insight into parenthood from a partner's perspective: all views and opinions given are his own, taken from his personal experiences.