Industry experts look at how employers are responding to shared parental leave changes

working parent

“I do think the issue of promotion needs looking at. For policy to work, you obviously need the policy first, but failure to promote it can be just as bad as not having it at all. There are exemplary firms – like those in the City – who are going beyond what is statutory and are changing terms and conditions to give men and women the same rights; however, this is not always the case in the male-dominated manufacturing sector. I’d like the government to look at how the law is promoted by employers, because there are men who don’t know their firm has to allow it. I know of firms that are already offering it, but say nothing about it on the benefits section of their website.” Adrienne Burgess, joint CEO, The Fatherhood Institute

“Of course shared parental leave will be under-promoted. It’s understandable. The rules are complicated. When even lawyers struggle with the detail, asking HR teams to get their heads around the changes is a challenge. For SMEs the implications of can feel daunting. Having lots of men suddenly taking chunks of time off isn’t a comfortable proposition. Of the 2,000 organisations we’ve worked with we see three distinct types of employers those such as Citi and Shell that have embraced the concept, and understood the possibilities and limitations; those that have looked at the detail and are adopting a wait-and-see attitude; and those that are sticking their heads in the proverbial sand.” Ben Black, managing director, My Family Care

“I don’t think shared parental leave will be hugely promoted, more because small businesses are not good at keeping up to date with all employment law. Clearly, we’d hope this is a policy that is promoted well so employees become aware of it. Our own research confirms it is young fathers who are often most disengaged at work if they are not able to juggle their work/life balance. But we believe employers don’t have to fear this, and that there is a positive conversation to be had. Awareness of shared parental leave has to be lifted for the good of society. That said, responsibility for doing this should not just be on the shoulders of SMEs, but should come from government and big business too.” Sarah Jackson, CEO, Working Families