Britain’s new parents have been encouraged to take up shared parental leave in their baby’s first year, as a new government campaign highlights the benefits of sharing childcare.
As part of a plan to raise awareness of employment rights across the UK economy, the “Share the joy” campaign aims to show parents how they can share childcare duties whilst maintaining their careers.
Around 285,000 couples currently qualify for shared parental leave in the UK every year yet take up of the initiative’s benefits could be as low as two per cent.
According to government data, around half of the general public aren’t even aware couples have the option of shared parental leave.
Under shared parental leave rules, eligible parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay after having a baby. Either parent can take time off separately or be off together for a period of up to six months after their baby is born.
The Share the joy campaign sees the government promise to launch a new website, providing detailed information and guidance on shared parental leave. New parents will also be reached via digital marketing and social media, as well as advertising on public transport.
Commenting on the campaign, small business minister Andrew Griffiths claimed that shared parental leave had benefits for employers as well as working parents.
He said: “We know that flexibility in work is proven to create happier, more loyal and more productive workforces.
“Shared parental leave gives choice to families. Dads and partners don’t have to miss out on their baby’s first step, word or giggle – they can share the childcare, and share the joy.
Introduced in 2015, shared parental leave was aimed at offering choice and flexibility around work to new parents, enabling mothers to return to work sooner if they wished to.
The policy followed a new right to request flexible working, which applied to 20m people in the workforce when it was introduced in 2014.
The government’s minister for women, Victoria Atkins, said in a statement: “Providing parents with choice and flexibility in how they balance childcare responsibilities is a key step towards achieving equality in the workplace.
“Shared parental leave is good for parents, children and employers. I am very pleased that this campaign will raise awareness of its benefits.”
Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.