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Few Couples Take Up Shared Parental Leave Scheme

Few Couples Take Up Shared Parental Leave Scheme

Only 3,000 new parents have taken advantage of the shared parental leave scheme in the first three months of 2016, research shows.

In comparison, 155,000 mothers have taken maternity leave, and 52,000 fathers have opted to take paternity leave during this time.

The shared parental leave scheme, which allows both mothers and fathers to share time off work following the birth of their child, has seen surprisingly few participants, according to figures obtained under Freedom of Information rules.

The scheme was implemented on 1 April, 2015, giving parents the option of sharing almost a year of leave from work.

It was designed to help mother’s return to work sooner and yet the snapshot figures suggest only two per cent of couples have taken up the scheme.

A Government impact assessment paper published when the plan was first tabled in 2013 estimated that between two and eight per cent of eligible fathers would take up the offer.

Parents who opt to take advantage of the scheme’s shared leave receive 90 per cent of their normal salary for the first six weeks after the birth. It then drops to a statutory £140 a week for the next 33 weeks.

By law, mothers must take two weeks’ leave following the birth of their child.

It is thought that fathers are shunning the shared parental leave scheme due to many firms paying above the legal minimum for paternity leave, whereas shared parental leave is bound to a statutory rate, causing couples to lose hundreds of pounds a month.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “These statistics are based on just three months so are wildly misleading.

“Shared parental leave is provided to help mothers who want to return to work early share responsibility for the care of her child with the father or partner.

“There are many factors that affect a couple’s decision on how childcare should be managed and by whom.”