A new investigation by PowWowNow has revealed that almost 50% of Dads who have accepted their allocated parental leave have been discriminated against in the workplace. The research was carried out to assess the impact and uptake of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) on fathers in the workplace. SPL was introduced in 2015 to allow parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of statutory pay between them following the birth of a child and is designed to allow couples to split child-caring roles more equally.

According to the research, a huge 25% of fathers suffered verbal abuse or mockery after taking time off to look after their child. The survey further found that over 35% of new dads suffered a negative impact on their career after exercising their right to parental leave. Of these, 17% suffered job loss, while nearly 20% received a demotion.

This data follows the revelation that last year only 9,200 new parents took shared parental leave – just 1% of those eligible to do so.

It claims that large numbers of dads in insecure work, such as agency workers and those on zero-hours contracts, are not eligible for it. Additionally, men and women who are self-employed don’t have any shared leave rights at all. The TUC argues that participation is low because the scheme is so poorly paid (£145.18 per week) making it unaffordable for most fathers. Some companies do go the extra step in supporting both parents with paternity leave.

How does it currently work?

  1. Pay and leave must be shared in the first year after the child is born or placed with the family.
  2. Shared parental leave can be taken in blocks separated by periods of work, or all in one go. Parents can also choose to be off work together or to stagger the leave and pay.
  3. Parents receive £145.18 a week or 90 per cent of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

Emma O’Leary, HR Director at ELAS, explains how SPL must be communicated to your employer: “If an employee is eligible, they must opt in to the SPL scheme by notifying their employer of their entitlement and intention to take SPL at least eight weeks before the proposed period of leave. The notice must contain a declaration by the other parent consenting to the proposed SPL. It must also specify the start and end dates of any SPL, either as a single period of continuous leave or a pattern of periods of leave.”