Recent headlines have claimed that only 1% of men took shared parental leave (SPL) in the past year. However, the 1% figure relates to all men, as opposed to just those whose partners had given birth.

In fact, survey statistics released this week show that there has been a 30% take-up of SPL in the past year (far greater than the Government prediction of 2% – 8% take-up).

The sample numbers underlying the statistics are relatively small, and identifying men who were eligible to take SPL in the past year is not entirely straightforward given the complex eligibility criteria. What is helpful is that two surveys came to similar results.

Both surveys include a range of statistics about family leave, including the approach taken by employers when it comes to enhancements. There are also quotes from parents and employers giving their views on SPL and it still appears that the take-up of SPL depends on individual family circumstances. Comparative earnings between parents will be a factor, as will access to enhanced benefits during leave.

  • The survey conducted by My Family Care and the Women’s Business Council is available here
    Page 20 gives the statistics for those who had a baby or adopted a child in the last year, with over 30% of men taking SPL
    Page 27 gives some interesting statistics in general about families, finances and caring responsibilities.  
  • The survey conducted by Total Jobs is available here.
    Page 9 shows that 31.4% of those who had had a baby or adopted a child in the last year had taken SPL. That figure includes men and women.

It will be interesting to see how take-up of SPL develops over the next 5 – 10 years.  

In the meantime, the Government has also proposed allowing grandparents access to SPL by 2018. The introduction of grandparental leave could result in parents being less likely to utilise their full maternity or SPL entitlements as grandparents step in to assist with childcare. 


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