In the week after Father's Day in the UK, insurance provider Aviva commissioned a report into Shared Parental Leave (SPL) polling 1,000 fathers and 1,000 mothers with children aged 16 and under nationwide.
One of the biggest barriers to gender equality and pay parity is a continuing resistance by employers to embrace agile working. A recent joint study from flexible working specialists, Timewise, and Deloitte set out a five step plan to help employers establish and implement new working cultures with the aim of improving pay parity between men and women.
We blogged in June last year about the employment tribunal claim of Ali -v- Capita Customer Management Ltd where Mr Ali was successful in his claim for direct sex discrimination. Female employees at Capita were entitled to 14 weeks’ full pay on maternity leave whereas fathers were only entitled to two weeks’ full pay on paternity and shared parental leave. Mr Ali's wife was advised to return to work early from maternity leave after being diagnosed with post natal depression. Mr Ali asked Capita whether he could take leave instead and was told he could take shared parental leave on statutory pay. The Tribunal found that this was direct sex discrimination.
The Women and Equalities Committee has published a report highlighting what it sees as the difficulties that fathers face in balancing their careers with childcare responsibilities. The report makes a series of proposals which aim to put men and women on a more equal footing when it comes to maternity and paternity leave. The most headline grabbing recommendation is that fathers should receive one month's leave at 90% of their salary (capped for higher earners) when their wife or partner has a baby and a further two months of paternity leave at £141 a week, without any loss of rights for the mother.
Earlier this week, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy revealed that as little as around 2% of eligible couples are taking up their entitlement to Shared Parental Leave (SPL). At the same time, the government announced that it will spend £1.5 million on a campaign drive which will be known as "Share the Joy". The campaign will focus on raising the profile of SPL with a lack of awareness of SPL amongst eligible parents having been identified as a significant factor in the particularly low levels of up-take.