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Parents are now eligible to share the responsibility of looking after their children born on or after 5 April.
Shared Parental Leave (SPL) entitles parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks’ worth of pay in the first 12 months of their child’s life.
It was revealed in research conducted by ‘My Family Care’ and ‘Workingmums.co.uk’ that 25 per cent were unaware of new changes whilst nearly a third didn’t understand them. In addition to 72 per cent of people surveyed admitting that they didn’t understand the purpose of SPLIT days.
Gillian Nissim from Workingmums.co.uk said: “What comes through from the survey data clearly is that parents are not aware of how SPL works, particularly on the detail like SPLIT days which allow mums and dads to keep in touch with work by working up to 20 days during their leave with their employers’ agreement.
“It is also interesting that they prefer a single block of leave to shorter periods. This may be because they think this would be less disruptive for all involved or because they find it difficult to understand how shorter blocks might work.
“It is clear that parents will need some guidance to help them negotiate this new legislation and how it might affect their family so they can make a decision that works for them. The aim of SPL is to open up choice for parents, but it must be an informed choice.”
Couples who adopt children are entitled to the same benefits during the first year of adoption regardless of the child’s age.
The new law allows more than 285,000 parents to take time off together or independently.
Furthermore the study revealed that more than 40 per cent of couples wouldn’t want to use SPL whilst nearly half of those asked thought that it could impact on their partner’s care progression and financial situation.
Director of My Family Care, Ben Black said: “These results show that there is still a long way to go when it comes to educating people about Shared Parental Leave. However, I believe that as time goes by and becomes a part of everyday working culture, the uptake will increase and employees will welcome the chance to spend more time with their new baby or share their maternity leave with their partner.
“This is ground-breaking legislation and only time will tell how it is welcomed by employers and employees alike.”
Shared Parental Leave has been introduced to help mothers to return work whilst allowing fathers to have more of a role in caring and looking after their new children.