Equalising pay for shared parental leave: well done Mr Clegg

21 October 2014

Nick Clegg’s proposal to equalise payments for new dads and mums who take parenting leave is a welcome sign that the shared parental leave arrangements coming on stream in April 2015 could be a game-changer.

The regulations still leave it open for individual companies to decide how much they will pay mums and dads, but the government’s decision to lead the way by announcing that the Civil Service will enhance mums’ and dads’ pay to the same level raises the bar.

A survey of employers in a range of sectors by Norton Rose Fulbright earlier this year found that 54% of companies questioned were already offering enhanced maternity pay. Of these 42% (24% of the whole sample) intended to enhance pay for shared parental leave above the statutory level.

Agreeing how to approach SPL requires serious thought by bosses. Some companies, like Citi, are seeing it as an opportunity to engage with the young people who work for them in a positive way, and work towards a more equitable approach (read more in MyFamilyCare’s SPL HR Resource Pack 2).

Others have already said they won’t follow the example set by the civil service.  Ford Motor Company, for example, will continue giving new mothers a full year’s leave on full pay, while fathers – by far the majority of their workforce – will receive the bare minimum (around £137 per week – lower than the national minimum wage!) for their two weeks’ paternity leave and any shared parental leave they wish to take.

Experts suggest point out that such an approach leaves companies open to claims for sexual discrimination.

So let’s hope many more employers thinking about how to shape their SPL policies will take a more enlightened route. There are all sorts of resources out there to help them think things through constructively – check out our page Shared parental leave: what employers need to know.

For too long we have accepted an unbalanced parenting leave system which offers families precious little choice over how to share the responsibility for earning and caring when they have children. SPL offers a welcome opportunity to change things, and Mr Clegg is to be congratulated for making that clear through his announcement.


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