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Men too embarrassed to request Shared Parental Leave

The desire is there for men to share parental leave with their partners, but research has found that there could still be barriers preventing them from doing so.

More than 87 per cent of men said they wanted to make the most of the new Shared Parental Leave rules and split leave following the birth of their child with the mother. But most were too apprehensive about the reactions and repercussions at work.

Nearly a third (31 per cent) said they thought their manager wouldn't be understanding, and a fifth believed their colleagues would make fun of them. Some 21 per cent thought they'd be overlooked for promotion by taking the time off.

The report from law firm Slater and Gordon said that a culture change would be needed to reduce the sense of embarrassment that men have about making a request under the new regulations.

It suggested that this could be underpinned by an increase in shared parental pay, bringing it closer to normal working levels.

All about enhancing pay

Many large employers have announced they will offer enhanced pay for Shared Parental Leave. Recently Virgin Management announced pay rates based on length of service up to 100 per cent of basic salary.

Until more employers offer similar incentives, the financial and practical considerations may make sharing leave impossible for many fathers.

This seems to be reflected in the experience of other countries that have introduced a similar system, according to the Financial Times.

Around nine out of ten fathers take shared leave in Sweden, Norway and Ireland, where pay is 80 to 100 per cent of their standard incomes. But in France where the pay is half the minimum wage, only one in hundred fathers do.

Julie Morris, Head of the Employment Department at Slater and Gordon, said, 'Bosses have a very important role to play in promoting shared parental leave and making it the norm for employees.

'If they do that successfully then they will see a happier, motivated and more equal workforce and that can only be good for business.'

Acas publications and services

pdf icon Shared Parental Leave: a good practice guide for employers and employees [538kb] can be downloaded for free on the Acas website, where further information for Parents and carers on Shared parental leave and pay is also available.

Acas experts can visit your organisation and help you develop effective policies for working parents; see Parents and carers: how Acas can help for details.

Acas training on Shared parental leave, Maternity, paternity and adoption, Flexible working, and Equality, diversity and the Equality Act 2010 will keep you up to speed with all the changes surrounding Shared Parental Leave, as well as improve your understanding of the law in the way it relates to other family-relevant employment legislation.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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