Shared Parental Leave and Pay was introduced in December 2014 for the parents of children due or adopted from 5 April 2015. The scheme enables working parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay in the first year, where the mother does not intend to use her full maternity leave. Since 2014, Adoption Leave has been a “day 1” right and the first six weeks of Statutory Adoption Pay have been paid at an earnings-related rate (90 per cent of the employee’s weekly earnings with no upper limit).
I am pleased that the Government is conducting an extensive evaluation of the Shared Parental Leave and Pay scheme, including large-scale, representative surveys of employers and parents. A qualitative study of parents who have used the scheme has also been commissioned. This is on top of assessing the responses from a 2019 consultation on high-level options and principles for reforming parental leave and pay system to enable parents to balance the gender division of parental leave.
These various data sources will give a fuller picture of the level of take-up of entitlements, demonstrate how the schemes are being used in practice, and help government to better understand the barriers and enablers to parents taking Shared Parental Leave. These findings and the Government’s response to the consultation will be published later this year and I will closely monitor any developments.
In addition, I know that the Government has run significant communications campaigns to promote Shared Parental Leave to parents and employers. I understand that a new online tool is also being developed to help parents plan Shared Parental Leave and Pay. The tool will be available in the coming months and will make it easier for parents to access the scheme.
I have also conveyed the strength of feeling on the inclusion of Shared Parental Leave and Pay in the Employment Bill that will be brought forward when the time is right to protect and enhance workers’ rights.