Buck Bond Group

Optimising shared parental leave in your organisation

While shared parental leave is a statutory right, qualifying factors and pay structures mean that takeup remains extremely low in the U.K.

Are you doing enough to support the parents amongst your people?

How enhanced parental leave benefits could improve your organisation

There are 13 million working parents in the U.K., meaning that more than 40% of our workforce is made up of working parents. While shared parental leave is a statutory right, the combination of qualifying thresholds (which many co-parents don’t meet) and disparities in pay mean that estimated take-up is still only between 3% and 4%. Without enhanced employer benefits, shared parental leave remains an unfeasible option for many working parents. So the benefits of shared parental leave, both personally and professionally, are still not being seen by a vast majority of parents or employers.

Greater flexibility leads to better outcomes

Despite moves to drive equality in the workplace, many parents still report negative experiences upon their return to work after parental leave. This is particularly felt where one parent has taken on sole parental leave – more often than not, this being on the maternal side. For example, roles evolve, or aren’t protected, in ways that make it harder for the employee to return to after a continued separation for the entire parental leave period.

When parents are able to take shared parental leave, they’re able to phase back into work earlier and more gradually, allowing for easier readjustment and better maintained connection with their role.

In terms of overall wellbeing, shared parental leave can also have a hugely positive impact as a marker of a supportive working culture. Many parents who take shared parental leave report an improved work-life balance, as well as both being better able to enjoy time as new parents.

With shared parental leave proving logistically challenging for many families, enhanced benefits in this area can be a real distinguishing factor for employers. With many employees seeking out greater flexibility following the pandemic, shared parental leave has become all the more relevant. Not only can this appeal to prospective employees but also deliver standalone ROI through higher levels of employee retention.

Things to think about

Employee survey

A short, anonymous survey can help you understand your employees’ thoughts in respect of your current parental leave offering, and help to determine how well your organisation’s programme is aligned to the choices and needs of your employees.

Partnerships with occupational health providers

Buck partners with occupational health providers who can provide expert advice on changes in policy to best meet your employees’ needs, especially where there are substantial differences between the views employees have expressed and current policies. While it may take time to make a complete shift from traditional structures to an entirely shared option, intermediary steps can be taken to ensure that your employees feel heard and looked after.

Training programmes

Especially where there is a significant shift in policy, it’s essential that line managers understand the rationale behind new policies and how to put them into practice. This will ensure staff feel enabled to make use of new parental leave options in ways that support them, and that they’re carried out effectively.

Communication programme

Ensuring your staff know what's available to them is key to success. Our engagement experts can work with you to ensure your shared parental leave strategy is communicated most effectively to your workforce, optimising understanding and uptake.

Resources

For additional insights on how your organisation can create a workforce today that can take on tomorrow, check out our latest thinking.

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